It has emerged today that Sir John Sawers, an alumnus from The University of Nottingham has been appointed as the new Chief of MI6. Sir John, 53, graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Physics in the summer of 1976 and will be replacing the 5 year-incumbent Oxford graduate, Sir John Scarlett this November.
Sir John’s career has been littered with many prestigious diplomatic postings such as Tony Blair’s foreign policy adviser from 1999-2001, Political Director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office amongst being the British Government Representative in Baghdad and an Ambassador to Cairo from 2001-2003. David Miliband, Foreign Secretary announced the surprise promotion to the position commonly known within the service as ‘C’, alongside the Prime Minister’s official spokesman. His appointment is a marked change in the normal recruitment process as previously ‘C’ would always be sourced from within the MI6 internal hierarchy.
Sir John began a short career with the intelligence services shortly after receiving his degree from Nottingham, apparently working as a spy in Yemen and Syria during 1977, but he then returned to diplomacy shortly afterward. Being described as a ‘Grade one ambassador’ by a No. 10 insider, Sir John will be facing difficult times with the SIS:
“International terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the growth of regional conflict and instability mean that there has never been a time when the skills and dedication of our intelligence agencies, including SIS, have been more necessary to our national security and the safety of our people around the world.”
– David Miliband, Foreign Secretary
Sir John is likely to have been headhunted as a result of his prior experience in policy-making with regard to Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons programme, Afghanistan and the Balkans. And will need to deliver in the same vigour as his predecessor, but Miliband seems confident that he is the right person to address some of the security challenges the UK faces. He Said:
“I welcome the appointment of Sir John Sawers as the new ‘C’. I look forward to working with him on the challenges we face as a country.”
Known to take a hard-line on Iran, it is likely to be an interesting few years for MI6 and foreign policy, but rest-assured that our very own Sir John is one of our best grads. He still holds the school athletic record for the 440 yards Hurdles at Beechen Cliff School in Bath, an accolade which may even prove to be useful in his new post.