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Sir Howard Frank Trayton Smith, GCMG (15 October 1919 – 7 May 1996) was a British diplomat.

Howard Smith

Born15 October 1919
Died7 May 1996(1996-05-07) (aged 76)
Alma materSidney Sussex College, Cambridge
OccupationIntelligence officer, Diplomat
Espionage activity
AllegianceUnited Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Service branchMI5
Service years1979–1981
RankDirector General of MI5


Educated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge,[1] Smith worked at Bletchley Park during World War II and later became the British ambassador to Moscow.[2] At college in Cambridge, Smith was a contemporary of Asa Briggs, playing chess with him and recommending Briggs to fellow Cambridge mathematician Gordon Welchman for service in Hut 6.[3]

In 1978 Smith was unexpectedly appointed Director General (DG) of MI5, the United Kingdom's internal security service, by Prime Minister James Callaghan, serving until 1981.[1]


  1. ^ a b Obituary: Sir Howard Smith The Independent, 10 May 1996
  2. ^ Derek Taunt, "Breaking German Naval Enigma", p. 111 in Action this Day, edited by Ralph Erskine and Michael Smith, 2001, ISBN 0-593-04982-9.
  3. ^ Jones, Nigel (15 March 2016). "Asa Briggs obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Michael Hanley
Director General of MI5
1978 – 1981
Succeeded by
Sir John Jones