John Kerr, Baron Kerr of Kinlochard

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Kerr of Kinlochard
British Ambassador to the
United States
In office
President Bill Clinton
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Robin Renwick
Succeeded by Christopher Meyer
British Representative to the
European Union
In office
President Enrique Barón Crespo
Egon Klepsch
Klaus Hänsch
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by David Hannay
Succeeded by Stephen Wall
Personal details
Born (1942-02-22) 22 February 1942 (age 74)
Grantown-on-Spey, Scotland, United Kingdom

John Olav Kerr, Baron Kerr of Kinlochard GCMG (born 22 February 1942), is a former diplomat, now Deputy Chairman of Scottish Power and a crossbench member of the House of Lords.

Background and education[edit]

Born in Grantown-on-Spey, he was educated at Glasgow Academy and at Pembroke College, Oxford (BA modern history 1963). He has Honorary degrees from the Universities of St Andrews, Aston and Glasgow. He is a Fellow of Imperial College London and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and an Hon Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford.[citation needed]

Diplomatic career[edit]

He served in the British Diplomatic Service from 1966 until 2002. This included postings at the British Embassy in Moscow, and at the High Commission in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He was Private secretary to the Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1974 until 1979, and was on secondment to HM Treasury from 1979 until 1984, during which time he was Principal Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1981 until 1984. He was Head of Chancery at the British Embassy in Washington DC from 1984 until 1987, then Assistant Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1987 until 1990.

He was Ambassador and UK Permanent Representative to the European Communities/European Union in Brussels from 1990 until 1995, and Ambassador to the United States in Washington from 1995 to 1997. Returning to London in 1997, he was Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service until 2002. After leaving UK Government service he was Secretary General of the European Convention in 2002/3.

He was appointed CMG in 1987, KCMG in 1991, and GCMG in 2001. Three years later, he was created a life peer as Baron Kerr of Kinlochard, of Kinlochard in Perth and Kinross. In the House of Lords he has served on the EU Select Committee and three of its Sub-Committees, and currently is a member of its Economic Select Committee.

He is a Trustee of the Refugee Council, and a Trustee, and Deputy Chairman, of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. He was Chairman of the Court and Council of Imperial College London from 2005 to 2011; a Trustee of the National Gallery from 2002 to 2010, and the Rhodes Trust from 1997 to 2010; a Fulbright Commissioner from 2003 to 2009; a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group from 2004 to 2016 (3); and UK President of the UK/Korea Forum for the Future from 2007 to 2013.

He is Chairman of the Centre for European Reform, a Council member of the European Policy Centre (Brussels), and of Business for New Europe, a member of the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission, and President of St Andrew's Clinics for Children.[1]

Business career[edit]

He became a Director of Shell Transport and Trading in 2002, and chaired the group of Directors who brought about the creation in 2005 of Royal Dutch Shell plc, of which he was Deputy Chairman and Senior Independent Director until 2012.[2] He was a Director of Rio Tinto from 2003 to 2015. He has been a Director of the Scottish American Investment Trust since 2002, and of Scottish Power Ltd since 2009. He became Deputy Chairman of Scottish Power in 2012.[3]


  1. ^ "The Rt Hon Lord Kerr of Kinlochard". European Leadership Network. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  2. ^ see Nicholas Beale, Constructive Engagement, ISBN 0-566-08711-1 Ch 10
  3. ^ "George Osborne and the man at the centre of everything". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir David Hannay
UK Permanent Representative to the European Union
Succeeded by
Sir Stephen Wall
Preceded by
Sir Robin Renwick
British Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Sir Christopher Meyer
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Coles
Permanent Secretary of the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Succeeded by
Sir Michael Jay