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Michael Jay, Baron Jay of Ewelme

Michael Hastings Jay, Baron Jay of Ewelme, GCMG (born 19 June 1946) is a British politician and former diplomat. He sits as a Crossbench member of the House of Lords, and previously served as Ambassador to France and Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Lord Jay of Ewelme

Official portrait of Lord Jay of Ewelme crop 2.jpg
Permanent Under Secretary of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
In office
Preceded bySir John Kerr
Succeeded bySir Peter Ricketts
Chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission
In office
23 July 2008 – 19 July 2013
Preceded byThe Lord Stevenson
Succeeded byThe Lord Kakkar
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
18 September 2006
Life Peerage
Personal details
Michael Hastings Jay

(1946-06-19) 19 June 1946 (age 73)


Jay was born in Hampshire and educated at Winchester College, Magdalen College, Oxford (at which he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics[1]), of which he is an honorary fellow, and the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He served as a VSO teacher in Zambia.

Diplomatic careerEdit

Jay joined the Ministry of Overseas Development in 1969, serving in London, Washington (at the World Bank) in 1973 and as First Secretary (Development) at the British High Commission, New Delhi, in 1978. He transferred to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1981, serving as Private Secretary to the Permanent Under-Secretary of State. As Counsellor he served in the European Secretariat of the Cabinet Office from 1985 to 1987.[2] He was posted as Counsellor in the Paris Embassy from 1987 to 1990, returning to the FCO as Director for European Affairs until 1994. He was appointed Director General for European and Economic Affairs 1994-96, following which he became a Senior Associate Member of St Antony's College, Oxford.

From July 1996 to September 2001 he was British Ambassador to France. During this tenure, he was the first British spokesman to speak publicly on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. In July 2001, he was appointed Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and thus Head of the Diplomatic Service, a post he took up on 14 January 2002.

In 2005 and 2006, Jay served as the Prime Minister's Personal Representative (Sherpa) for the G8 summits at Gleneagles and St Petersburg in addition to his PUS duties.

He was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael & St George in the 1992 Birthday Honours,[3] promoted to Knight Commander in the 1997 New Year Honours[4] and made a Knight Grand Cross in the 2006 Birthday Honours.[5]

Post retirementEdit

Upon his retirement from HM's Diplomatic Service on 27 July 2006, he was recommended for a Life peerage, and this was gazetted as Baron Jay of Ewelme, of Ewelme in the County of Oxfordshire, on 18 September 2006.[6][7]

Lord Jay was the Chair of Merlin, the British health and medical aid agency, from 2007 until 2013. He has been a non-executive director of Associated British Foods (2006-),Credit Agricole (2007-2011), EDF (2009-), Candover PLC (2008-)and Valeo SA (2007-). He is a Trustee of the Thomson Reuters Founders share company (2013-), and Chairman of the Advisory Council of the British Library (2011 -). He was Chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission from 2008 until 2013). he has served on sub-committees C, E and F of the House of Lords Select Committee on European Union affairs.


Jay married Sylvia Mylroie in 1975. In 2005 Lady Jay was appointed Vice-Chairman of L'Oreal UK & Ireland, then Chairman from 2011-2013. She has been a non-executive director on the board of Alcatel-Lucent, and is non-executive director of St-Gobain, Lazard and Casino Group. She is Chairman of the Pilgrim Trust and has been a trustee of the Prison Reform Trust and Entente Cordiale Scholarship Scheme. In 2019 she was appointed as High Sheriff of Oxfordshire.


Coat of arms of Michael Jay, Baron Jay of Ewelme
Coronet of a Baron
Upon a Helm with a Wreath Argent Or and Sable an Otter sejant erect Sable holding with both forepaws and blowing a Trumpet Or
Per saltire Argent and Sable two Clarions in pale each ensigned with an Ancient Crown Sable and two Clarions in fess Argent each ensigned by an Ancient Crown Or
On either side a Manx Shearwater contourny supporting with the wings addorsed and inverted proper beaked and legged Or in the beak a Trefoil slipped also Or
The grantee's career in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is reflected in the pelagic Manx Shearwaters. The latter's short legs prevent them from supporting the shield with a foot in a satisfactory manner. Accordingly, they have been shown contourny, thus enabling them to support with the wings. The natural black and white of the shearwater is reflected in the Arms which are divided to represent North, South, East, and West. Crown service is reflected in the coronets which ensign clarions which, in turn, suggest the initial J. General proclamation and industry is found with the trumpet-blowing otter in the crest. An industrious otter in the Crown Service is an idea repeated in the Badge.


  1. ^ Transcript of interview with Baron Jay
  2. ^ The Diplomatic Service List 1989, p. 219), HMSO, ISBN 0-11-591707-1
  3. ^ "No. 52952". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 1992. p. 3.
  4. ^ "No. 54625". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1996. p. 3.
  5. ^ "No. 58014". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2006. p. 3.
  6. ^ "No. 58105". The London Gazette. 22 September 2006. p. 12975.
  7. ^ "Announcement of Michael Jay's introduction at the House of Lords". 12 October 2006.

External linksEdit

Offices heldEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Christopher Mallaby
British Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
Sir John Holmes
Government offices
Preceded by
Director-General, European and Economic Affairs of the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Sir John Kerr
Permanent Secretary of the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Succeeded by
Sir Peter Ricketts
Other offices
Preceded by
The Lord Stevenson of Coddenham
Chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission
Succeeded by
The Lord Kakkar