David Spedding

Sir David Rolland Spedding KCMG CVO OBE (7 March 1943 – 13 June 2001) was Head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 1994 to 1999.

Sir David Spedding

Born7 March 1943
Died13 June 2001(2001-06-13) (aged 58)
Alma materHertford College, Oxford
OccupationIntelligence officer
Spouse(s)Gillian Kinnear
ChildrenTwo sons
Espionage activity
Service branchSecret Intelligence Service
Service years1967–1999
RankChief of the Secret Intelligence Service

Early lifeEdit

David Spedding was the son of a Border Regiment lieutenant colonel,[1][2] and grew up comfortably middle class.[3] He was initially educated at Sherborne School and then read history at Hertford College, Oxford.[4]


David Spedding joined the Secret Intelligence Service in 1967,[4] while a postgraduate student at Oxford.[2] He then attended the Middle East Center for Arabic Studies in Beirut, becoming a specialist on Middle East affairs.[4] He also served in Santiago and Abu Dhabi.[5]

In 1971 Spedding was named as the local SIS station commander in Lebanon, and was later posted to Abu Dhabi in 1977.[2] Following his Middle East Directorate appointment in 1983, he was made the Amman Jordan station head,[2] and was subsequently commended in that position for uncovering an Abu Nidal plan to assassinate the Queen during an upcoming Jordan visit.[6] For this he was made Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.[6]

In 1993, Spedding became Director of Requirements and Operations. In 1994 he became Chief of the Service,[4] becoming the first chief to have never served in the armed forces, and the youngest to have held the position to that date.[7] During Spedding's tenure the SIS faced some degree of negative publicity due to unauthorized disclosures in the wake of Richard Tomlinson's dismissal.[8]

Sir David Spedding died of lung cancer on 13 June 2001, aged 58.[4]


  1. ^ Woo, Elaine (16 June 2001). "Sir David Spedding; Ex-Chief of British Spy Agency". The LA Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Nigel West (18 February 2014). Historical Dictionary of British Intelligence. Scarecrow Press. pp. 563–. ISBN 978-0-8108-7897-6.
  3. ^ Woo, Elaine (16 June 2001). "Sir David Spedding; Ex-Chief of British Spy Agency". The LA Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 November 2020. The son of a lieutenant colonel in the British Border Regiment, Spedding grew up in comfortably middle class surroundings. He went to Sherborne, a public school in Dorset remarkable for the fact that le Carre, the spy-thriller master, and Christopher Curwen, another future MI6 chief, also went there. At Oxford, Spedding listed as his chief interests walking, medieval history and golf. But he was a run-of-the-mill duffer, with a handicap, Adams noted, of 20.
  4. ^ a b c d e Obituary: Sir David Spedding Guardian, 14 June 2001
  5. ^ Obituary: Sir David Spedding Daily Telegraph, 14 June 2001
  6. ^ a b Gordon Thomas (16 February 2010). Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6. St. Martin's Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-4299-4576-9.
  7. ^ Nigel West (2 September 2009). The A to Z of British Intelligence. Scarecrow Press. pp. 514–. ISBN 978-0-8108-7028-4.
  8. ^ Nigel West (30 June 2016). At Her Majestys Secret Service: The Chiefs of Britains Intelligence Service, MI6. Pen & Sword Books. pp. 142–. ISBN 978-1-84832-895-2.

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by Chief of the SIS
1994 - 1999
Succeeded by