John Sawers

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Person.png Sir John Sawers   History Commons NNDB PowerbaseRdf-icon.png
(spook, diplomat)
U.K. Permanent Representative Briefs Media on DPRK (3442109236).jpg
BornRobert John Sawers
26 July 1955
Warwick, England
NationalityBritish
Alma materUniversity of Nottingham, University of St Andrews, University of the Witwatersrand, Harvard University

Employment.png Chairman of Macro Advisory Partners

In office
January 2015 - Present
EmployerMacro Advisory Partners
Joined "some new labour friends"

[[|x22px|link=Chief of the SIS]] Chief of the SIS

In office
1 November 2009 - 1 November 2014
Preceded byJohn Scarlett
Succeeded byAlex Younger

Employment.png President of the United Nations Security Council Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
1 August 2009 - 31 August 2009

[[|x22px|link=UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations]] UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations

In office
1 August 2007 - 1 November 2009

Employment.png Special Representative in Iraq

In office
2003
Preceded byJohn Sawers
Succeeded byJohn Sawers
Responsibilities unclear.

[[|x22px|link=HM Ambassador to Egypt]] HM Ambassador to Egypt

In office
2001 - 2003

Sir John Sawers is a spooky UK diplomat and former SIS chief. In 2015 he became Chairman of Macro Advisory Partners (MAP), a company which "provides leading investors, corporations, and governments with the strategic insights required to navigate the intersection of global markets, geopolitics and government policy in a volatile and complex world." Sir John joined "some new labour friends" in MAP in January 2015[1] after completing his five-year tenure as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in November 2014.[2]

On 8 October 2015, Sawers warned that Russia’s heavy militarisation of Syria could lead to armed confrontation between it and the US-led coalition unless the two sides agree to co-operate on defeating the Islamic State.[3]

Background

Sawers was born in Warwick, and educated at the City of Bath boys' school.[4] He studied physics and philosophy at the University of Nottingham and later studied at the Universities of St Andrews, Witwatersrand and Harvard.[5]

MI6 career

Richard Norton-Taylor notes that "It is highly unusual for a diplomat, or any outsider, to be appointed as the head – or 'C' for chief, as he is still officially called – of MI6, Britain's secret intelligence service."[6] However, the BBC states that "As Downing Street coyly noted, Sir John is "rejoining" the SIS - no details were given about his previous career in MI6."[7]

The Telegraph states that "Although he trained with MI6 at the beginning of his career, he has spent the time since as a career diplomat".[8] However, Michael Evans' account suggests that Sawers undertook two overseas postings as an MI6 officer, presumably under diplomatic cover:

He began his career with MI6 in 1977, serving in Yemen and Syria. He then switched to the Diplomatic Service in the 1980s, following a more conventional path as a British envoy, and was appointed political director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2003.[9]

Diplomatic career

According to the 1989 Diplomatic Service List, Sawers joined the FCO in 1977. His first posting in 1980 was to Sana'a and, as Second Secretary, he was posted to Damascus in 1982. He returned to the FCO in 1984 and spent two years as Private Secretary to the FCO Minister of State. In January 1988, Sawers was posted to Pretoria as First Secretary (Labour) where he remained until 1991, during the first part of South Africa's transition from Apartheid.[10]

For two and a half years, he served as Principal Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd. According to the Foreign Office, "The period was dominated by war in Bosnia, crises in the Middle East, and the debate in Britain on the European Union."[11]

Sawers spent the period from 1995 to 1998 in the United States. After a year as an International Fellow at Harvard University he joined the British Embassy in Washington where he headed the Embassy team dealing with foreign and defence policy issues.[12]

Foreign Affairs Advisor

Sawers was foreign affairs advisor to Tony Blair from January 1999 to summer 2001, a period that included the Kosovo War. He was involved in negotiations on Northern Ireland and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.[13][14]

Egypt Ambassador

Sawers next post was as Ambassador to Cairo from 2001 to 2003.[15]

Iraq envoy

Sawers served as a special envoy in Baghdad for three months after the invasion of Iraq. According to The Telegraph, he argued against the policy of dismissing members of the Ba'ath Party.[16]

Foreign Office Political Director

Sawers served as Foreign Office Political Director for four years at the height of the Iraq conflict[17] from August 2003 to August 2007.[18]

The Foreign Office described his role as follows:

In this post he advised the Foreign Secretary on political and security issues worldwide, and negotiated on behalf of the Foreign Secretary with international partners in the G8, EU and the UN. He was particularly closely involved in policy on Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.[19]

UN representative

Sawers became the UK's permanent representative to the UN in New York in August 2007.[20]

The BBC describes his role in the post as follows:

as an ambassador of one of the permanent five, Sir John has played a central role in the key resolutions negotiated here over the past two years - on Iran, North Korea and the Middle East.
On Sri Lanka and Burma, he has been pushing the UN to play an active role.
An Iran specialist and scientist, his press briefings on the status of Iran's nuclear programme have been known to resemble seminars on nuclear physics.[21]

Director of MI6

Sawers was named as the new chief of MI6 on 16 June 2009. He replaced Sir John Scarlett in November 2009. Shortly after his appointment, details of Sawers' wife's Facebook account were revealed by the Mail on Sunday. The paper revealed that Lady Sawers' half-brother Hugo Haig-Thomas was an associate of right-wing historian David Irving. This led opposition spokesmen including Liberal Democrat Edward Davey and Conservative Patrick Mercer to question whether Sawers' security had been compromised.[22]

Sawers is the first MI6 chief appointed from outside the service since Sir John Rennie in 1968, and the Facebook incident has contributed to criticism from his predecessors.[23]

According to the Sunday Times' Anne McElvoy, former MI6 director Richard Dearlove was critical of the appointment because of Sawers' closeness to the Government. McElvoy added that:

One recently retired 'C' has taken the unusual step of speaking out to The Sunday Times Magazine about the appointment. “It’s a dreadful mistake,” he says flatly. “The problem will be operational credibility with the troops. What kind of signal does it send if someone who was barely in the service before he left it is appointed as its head? He is dealing with people who have devoted their lives to SIS, as MI6 is formally known.[24]

SpyBlog suggests that because Dearlove is mentioned directly in the article "the recently retired 'C'" may be John Scarlett.[25]

The UPI news agency reported that Sawers and CIA head Leon Panetta had visited Riyadh in early 2010. This reportedly coincided with increased Saudi pressure on Pakistan to cooperate with the US against the Taliban.[26]

Death of Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams, a 31-year-old codes and ciphers expert on secondment from GCHQ to MI6 was found dead in suspicious circumstances on 23 August 2010 during Sawers' tenure of the Director post.

Views

According to Richard Norton-Taylor, "Sawers is known to adopt a hard line on Iran and be sceptical about any suggestions that it does not want to build nuclear weapons."[27]

Affiliations

External Resources

26 July 1955| 

A Document by John Sawers

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:Speech by Head of MI6speech28 October 2010MI6
MI5
Society of Editors
A speech by then Director General of MI6 to The Society of Editors about the work of the SIS's and their relationship with the media.

 

Events Participated in

EventStartEndLocation(s)Description
Bilderberg/201429 May 20141 June 2014Denmark
Copenhagen
Marriott Hotel
Bilderberg/201511 June 201514 June 2015Austria
Telfs-Buchen
Bilderberg/20169 June 201612 June 2016Germany
Dresden
Details of agenda and participants in the 2016 Bilderberg group meeting in Dresden, Germany with an introduction by Tony Gosling
Bilderberg/20171 June 20174 June 2017US
Virginia
Chantilly
The 65th Bilderberg Meeting
Bilderberg/20187 June 201810 June 2018Italy
Turin
Hotel Torino Lingotto Congress
The 66th Bilderberg Meeting, in Turin, Italy, known for months in advance after an unprecedented leak by the Serbian government.
Bilderberg/201930 May 20192 June 2019Switzerland
Montreux
Hotel Montreux Palace
The 67th Bilderberg Meeting


References

  1. http://www.intelligenceonline.com/corporate-intelligence/consultants/2015/01/28/sawers-joins-macro-advisory,108058747-ART
  2. "Macro Advisory Partners"
  3. "War with Russia could happen without agreement over Syria, warns former UK spy chief"
  4. Richard Norton-Taylor, "Sir John Sawers named as new chief of MI6", guardian.co.uk, 16 June 2009.
  5. Richard Norton-Taylor, Sir John Sawers named as new chief of MI6, guardian.co.uk, 16 June 2009.
  6. Richard Norton-Taylor, Sir John Sawers named as new chief of MI6, guardian.co.uk, 16 June 2009.
  7. Laura Trevelyan, New MI6 boss is 'excellent dancer', BBC News, 16 June 2009.
  8. Duncan Gardham, Career civil servant the new chief of MI6, telegraph.co.uk, 17 June 2009.
  9. Michael Evans, [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6511372.ece Outsider Sir John Sawers appointed new head of MI6], Times Online, 16 June 2009.
  10. Permanent Representative, UK Mission the UN, New York, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accessed 17 June 2009.
  11. Permanent Representative, UK Mission the UN, New York, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accessed 17 June 2009.
  12. Permanent Representative, UK Mission the UN, New York, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accessed 17 June 2009.
  13. Permanent Representative, UK Mission the UN, New York, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accessed 17 June 2009.
  14. Richard Norton-Taylor, Sir John Sawers named as new chief of MI6, guardian.co.uk, 16 June 2009.
  15. Permanent Representative, UK Mission the UN, New York, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accessed 17 June 2009.
  16. Duncan Gardham, Career civil servant the new chief of MI6, telegraph.co.uk, 17 June 2009.
  17. Duncan Gardham, Career civil servant the new chief of MI6, telegraph.co.uk, 17 June 2009.
  18. Permanent Representative, UK Mission the UN, New York, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accessed 17 June 2009.
  19. Permanent Representative, UK Mission the UN, New York, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accessed 17 June 2009.
  20. Permanent Representative, UK Mission the UN, New York, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accessed 17 June 2009.
  21. Laura Trevelyan, New MI6 boss is 'excellent dancer', BBC News, 16 June 2009.
  22. Jason Lewis, MI6 chief blows his cover as wife's Facebook account reveals family holidays, showbiz friends and links to David Irving, MailOnline, 5 July 2009.
  23. Anne McElvoy, On Her Majesty's Not-So-Secret Service, Sunday Times, 4 October 2009.
  24. Anne McElvoy, On Her Majesty's Not-So-Secret Service, Sunday Times, 4 October 2009.
  25. Anne McElvoy, On Her Majesty's Not-So-Secret Service, Sunday Times, 4 October 2009.
  26. Saudis 'pushed ISI to aid U.S.', UPI, 25 February 2010.
  27. Richard Norton-Taylor, Sir John Sawers named as new chief of MI6, guardian.co.uk, 16 June 2009.
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