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David Ford (civil servant)

  (Redirected from David Robert Ford)

Sir David Robert Ford, KBE, LVO (Chinese: 霍德; 22 February 1935 – 10 September 2017) was the fifth and the last non-ethnic Chinese Chief Secretary of Hong Kong and Deputy Governor of Hong Kong from 1986 to 1993 and was Hong Kong Commissioner in London until 1997.

Sir David Ford
Chief Secretary of Hong Kong
In office
10 December 1986 – 28 November 1993
Governor Sir David Wilson
Chris Patten
Preceded by Sir David Akers-Jones
Succeeded by Anson Chan
Secretary for the Civil Service
In office
August 1985 – December 1986
Governor Sir Edward Youde
Preceded by John Martin Rowlands
Succeeded by Harnam Singh Grewal
Personal details
Born (1935-02-22)22 February 1935
Died 10 September 2017(2017-09-10) (aged 82)
Spouse(s) Elspbeth Anne Mucker (m. 1958; div. 1987)
Gillian Petersen (m. 1987)
Children 4
Alma mater Royal College of Defence Studies
Occupation Army officer, civil servant


Ford was born on 22 February 1935 and educated at the Taunton School in southwest England. He joined the military service at 20 as a regular army officer in the Royal Artillery, serving in 17 different countries, five different continents. In his last five years of service, he served in Aden and Borneo with the Commando Brigade. During the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist riots, Ford was seconded to the Hong Kong government. The riots instigated by the local communists left 51 people dead.[1]

Ford left the army in 1972 and began to work in the Hong Kong government, holding an number of appointments as a senior civil servant in the Hong Kong government. He became the Director of the Information Services Department in 1974 where he engaged in propaganda warfare with the communists in Hong Kong. He was Under Secretary in the Northern Ireland Office between 1977 and 1979 during the resurgence of the Irish Republican Army in the period known as The Troubles. Pro-Beijing newspapers believed Ford was an MI6 agent due to his portfolio.[1]

He returned to Hong Kong in 1979 and studied at the Royal College of Defence Studies between 1980 and 1983 before he became Hong Kong Commissioner in London. He was the Secretary for the Civil Service from 1985 and 1986. He became the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong and Deputy Governor of Hong Kong in 1986, the most senior civil servant and the highest position in the civil service. During this period, he initiated the planning for Hong Kong's new international airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1989. He held the position until 1993 when he retired and took the position of Hong Kong Commissioner in London for the second time.[1]

Ford retired from public service in 1997, focusing on breeding rare cattle and sheep in Devon. He was a director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England between 2001 and 2003. In 2002, he became a Non Executive Director at PCCW Limited. From 2003 to May 2017 he was Chairman of UK Broadband Limited, owner of the Relish wireless broadband service and the UK subsidiary of PCCW. UK Broadband was sold to Three UK in May 2017.[2] He visited Hong Kong for several times and attracted interests from the pro-Beijing media, which speculated him strategising with pan-democrat opposition and "meddling" in Hong Kong's internal affairs.[3]

Ford died on 10 September 2017, at the age of 82.[4] Lady Gillian Ford, his wife, was a founder and subsequently patron of the Hong Kong Children's Cancer Foundation from 1988 to 1992.[5]


Government offices
Preceded by
Nigel John Vale Watt
Director of Information Services
Succeeded by
Richard Lai Ming
Preceded by
Denis Bray
Hong Kong Commissioner in London
Succeeded by
Sir Jack Cater
Preceded by
Bernard Williams
Director of Housing
Succeeded by
Y. L. Pang
Preceded by
Donald Liao
Secretary for Housing
Succeeded by
John Rawling Todd
Preceded by
John Martin Rowlands
Secretary for the Civil Service
Succeeded by
Harnam Singh Grewal
Preceded by
Sir David Akers-Jones
Chief Secretary of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Anson Chan
Preceded by
John Francis Yaxley
Hong Kong Commissioner in London
Succeeded by
John Tsang Chun-wah
Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London