Peter Smithers

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Sir Peter Henry Berry Otway Smithers (9 December 1913 in Yorkshire, England – 8 June 2006 in Vico Morcote, Switzerland) was a United Kingdom Conservative Party politician. He was a Member of Parliament for Winchester for 14 years, and a junior Minister in the early 1960s. He also served as Secretary General of the Council of Europe from 1964 to 1969.


He was educated at Harrow School and Magdalen College, Oxford. He received a First Class Honours Degree in modern history. He was called to the bar from the Inner Temple in 1936.

Smithers became an officer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1937 and by 1958 he retired as a lieutenant commander. During the Second World War he was associated with intelligence work, being a friend and colleague of Ian Fleming, who arranged for Smithers diplomatic career. Smithers' Financial Times obituary suggests he was the model for Fleming's most famous character, Commander James Bond. Other possibilities are discussed in Inspirations for James Bond.

He received a number of diplomatic postings, being Assistant Naval Attaché at Washington, D.C., and Acting Naval Attaché at Mexico City (also covering part of Central America).

Smithers served as a councillor on Winchester Rural District Council 1946-50. He was elected as MP for Winchester at the 1950 general election and sat until he resigned in January 1964 on his appointment to the Council of Europe post. He had previously been a British delegate to the Council. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to a number of Ministers before becoming Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office 1962-1964.

At the end of his life, he was a Swiss citizen. He died on 8 June 2006 in Vico Morcote, Ticino, Switzerland, at the age of 92. It was claimed in 2011 that his death had been an assisted suicide through drinking a solution of Sodium Pentobarbital.[1]


  • Who's Who of British Members of Parliament: Volume IV 1945-1979, edited by M. Stenton and S. Lees (The Harvester Press 1981)
  1. ^ "The Swiss suicide clinic and the £1.3m will riddle of the real-life James Bond". The Mail on Sunday. 26 June 2011.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Jeger
Member of Parliament for Winchester
Succeeded by
Morgan Morgan-Giles
Political offices
Preceded by
Lodovico Benvenuti
Secretary General of the Council of Europe
16 March 1964 – 15 September 1969
Succeeded by
Lujo Toncic-Sorinj