Sir John Sawers

Senior Adviser, Chatham House; Executive Chairman, Newbridge Advisory; Non-Executive Director, BP

Biography

Sir John has 36 years’ experience in diplomacy and intelligence, culminating in five years as chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 2009 to 2014.

In that role, he took part in the UK National Security Council and the Joint Intelligence Committee, contributing both to assessments of the threats to the UK’s security and to the strategies and policy decisions on how to promote and protect British interests around the world.

As MI6 chief, he led the service through a period of international political upheaval and high terrorist threat, including against the 2012 London Olympics. He also modernised the way the service works and created a more open approach to public accountability.

Prior to leading MI6 he was the UK’s ambassador to the United Nations (2007-2009), political director of the Foreign Office (2003-2007), special representative in Iraq (2003), ambassador to Cairo (2001-2003) and foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair (1999-2001).

In his earlier career he worked overseas in Yemen, Syria, South Africa and Washington, and at home was involved in policy on the EU, Russia and the Middle East.

Sir John studied at the universities of Nottingham, St Andrews and Harvard. He is a visiting professor at King’s College London, a senior fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, and a governor of the Ditchley Foundation.