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Sir Dick Goldsmith White, KCMG, KBE (20 December 1906 – 21 February 1993) was a British intelligence officer. He was Director General (DG) of MI5 from 1953 to 1956, and Head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 1956 to 1968.

Dick White

Dick White.jpg
Dick White: Head of the Secret Intelligence Service
Born20 December 1906
Tonbridge, Kent
Died21 February 1993 (aged 86)
Burpham, Sussex
OccupationIntelligence officer
Espionage activity
AllegianceUnited Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Service branchMI5, MI6
RankDirector General of MI5
Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)


White was born in Tonbridge, Kent and went to school at Bishop's Stortford College. He took a First Class Degree in History in Christ Church, Oxford. He was athletic in his youth. He was described by Peter Wright as resembling David Niven: "the same perfect English manners, easy charm, and immaculate dress sense." He was, said Wright, "tall with lean, healthy features and a sharp eye".[1] Only recently transferred from MI5, White had suspected Kim Philby of being the "third man".[2]

Much as Wright liked White, he felt his move to MI6 was a mistake for both MI5 and MI6: "Just as his work [at MI5] was beginning, he was moved on a politician's whim to an organisation he knew little about, and which was profoundly hostile to his arrival. He was never to be as successful there as he had been in MI5."[3] He was appointed Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in 1956 in the wake of the "Crabb Affair", the exposure of which had damaged Soviet-British relations and embarrassed MI6.[4]

He died after a long illness at his home, "The Leat" in Burpham, near Arundel in Sussex, on 21 February 1993; his wife, Kate, survived him.


  1. ^ Wright, Peter, Spycatcher, Stoddart (Canada), 1987, p. 40 (paperback)
  2. ^ Carver, Tom (11 October 2012). "Diary: Philby in Beirut". London Review of Books. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  3. ^ Wright, Spycatcher, p. 96
  4. ^ Turner, Barry, Suez 1956: The Inside Story of the First Oil War, Hodder & Stoughton, 2006, p.171
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Percy Sillitoe
Director General of MI5
Succeeded by
Sir Roger Hollis
Preceded by
Sir John Sinclair
Chief of the SIS
Succeeded by
Sir John Rennie