Skip to main content

Sir John Scarlett KCMG OBE

Sir John Scarlett served as Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) from August 2004 to October 2009. He joined SIS in 1971 and over the next 20 years served in Nairobi, Paris and twice in Moscow as well as several assignments in London covering the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.  His second time in Moscow (1991–1994) coincided with the end of the USSR and the early years of the Russian Federation.  In early September 2001 he retired from SIS on appointment as Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee in the Cabinet Office.  He rejoined SIS as Head of the Service in 2004.

Sir John’s current roles include Senior Advisor at Morgan Stanley; Chairman, International Advisory Group, Equinor; Member of Swiss Re Strategic Council’; Chairman, SC Strategy Ltd; Director, Times Newspaper Holdings; Vice Chairman, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Co-Chair of the Global Advisory Council, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC. Sir John is a member of the State Honours Committee; Vice- President of the UK Association de la Legion d’Honneur’, Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter and a Trustee of the Friends of the French Institute in the United Kingdom.  

Sir John was born in 1948 in London and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where, in 1970, he was awarded First Class Honours in Modern History.  Sir John was appointed OBE (Officer of the British Empire) in 1987, CMG (Commander of St Michael and St George) in 2001 and KCMG in 2007.   

Sir John says: “Good policy making is ever more important for our country in an increasingly complex world.  Good policy depends upon effective strategic thinking. The Strategy & Security Institute plays an important role in developing understanding of a range of issues at a time of uncertainty in global geopolitics. It is a privilege to be part of this expert and professional team”.