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Sir John Holmes announced as new Director of the Ditchley Foundation

Published: Thursday, 25th February 2010

The Ditchley Foundation's Council of Management has appointed Sir John Holmes, GCVO, KBE, CMG, to succeed Sir Jeremy Greenstock as Director of The Ditchley Foundation with effect from 1 September 2010.  Sir Jeremy will be leaving his post in August 2010.

Sir John Holmes joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1973 and served in a wide range of roles. He began his career in London, which involved a period of temporary duty at the 1975 General Assembly as part of the British Mission to the UN in New York. In 1976, he was appointed to the British Embassy in Moscow as a Second Secretary. Returning to London in 1978, he dealt with Lebanon and the Middle East peace process before being appointed Assistant Private Secretary to the British Foreign Secretary in 1982, covering the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 1984, he went to the British Embassy in Paris as First Secretary to cover economic and European Union issues.

He returned to London in 1987 as Assistant Head of the then Soviet Department in the FCO, and subsequently spent two years between 1989 and 1991 on secondment to Thomas De La Rue, the British company of banknote printers. In 1991 he went to India as Political, then Economic and Commercial, Counsellor at the British High Commission in New Delhi, supervising the British aid programme as well as economic and commercial issues.

On return to London in 1995, he was briefly head of the European Union Department (External) in the FCO before joining Prime Minister John Major in Downing Street as his Private Secretary (Overseas Affairs) and diplomatic adviser. He continued this role with Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1997 to 1999, becoming Principal Private Secretary, and became a key figure in the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement.

In 1999, he was appointed as the British Ambassador in Lisbon, before returning to Paris in 2001, as Ambassador until 2007.

Until he joins Ditchley in September 2010, Sir John will remain in his post as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the United Nations in New York.