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Dame Nicola Mary Brewer DCMG (born 14 November 1957)[2] is a British diplomat and university administrator. Since 2014 Vice-Provost (International) at University College London, she was British High Commissioner to South Africa from 2009 to 2013, and the first Chief Executive of Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission from 2007 to 2009.

Dame Nicola Brewer

Nicola Brewer (cropped).jpg
British High Commissioner to the
Republic of South Africa
In office
May 2009 – Sept 2013
Preceded byPaul Boateng
Succeeded byJudith Macgregor
Chief Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission
In office
March 2007 – May 2009
Preceded byNew position
Succeeded byNeil Kinghan (interim)
Personal details
RelationsTrevor Brewer (rugby player; father)
Alma materUniversity of Leeds[1]


Brewer was educated at the Belfast Royal Academy, and read English at the University of Leeds, graduating with a BA in 1980, then taking a Doctorate in linguistics in 1988 there.

Brewer joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1983, completing overseas postings in South Africa, India, France and Mexico.[citation needed] She served as the FCO's Director for Global Issues from 2001 to 2002, and then as Director-General for Regional Programmes at the Department for International Development (DfID), the DfID board member supervising the UK's overseas bilateral aid programmes.[3]

In 2004, she was appointed Director-General for Europe at the FCO, leading the FCO's contribution to the UK's 2005 Presidency of the European Union, advising the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Europe on European Union and other European policy issues.[citation needed]

In December 2006, Brewer was appointed by open competition as the first Chief Executive of the newly established Equality and Human Rights Commission, the successor body to the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission. She took up her new position in March 2007, standing down in May 2009 to succeed Paul Boateng as British High Commissioner to South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho, completing her mission in September 2013. On her return to the UK, she became the Founding Director of the FCO Diplomatic Academy.[citation needed]

In May 2014 she was appointed Vice-Provost (International) at University College London.

She is a non-executive director of Aggreko and Scottish Power. She is also a member of the controversial[citation needed] Trilateral Commission.


Brewer was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2003 New Year Honours[4] and Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (DCMG) in the 2011 Birthday Honours.[5] The University of Leeds awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2009.

Personal lifeEdit

Brewer is married to former diplomat Geoffrey Gillham: they have two children. Her father, Trevor Brewer, played international rugby for Wales in the 1950s.[6]


  1. ^ Profile Archived 25 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 14 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Brewer, Dame Nicola (Mary), (Dame Nicola Gillham)". Who's Who 2019. 1 December 2018.
  3. ^ Staff. "Nicola Brewer biodata". Retrieved 14 June 2015.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "No. 56797". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 31 December 2002. p. 3.
  5. ^ "No. 59808". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2011. p. 3.
  6. ^ Fernand, Deidre (15 April 2007). "We need a Dad's revolution". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
Government offices
Preceded by
Suma Chakrabarti
Director-General, Regional Programmes of the
Department for International Development

Succeeded by
Dame Nemat Shafik
Preceded by
Sir Kim Darroch
Director-General, Europe of the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Succeeded by
Martin Donnelly
as Director-General, Europe and Globalisation
Preceded by
New position
Chief Executive of the
Equality and Human Rights Commission

Succeeded by
Neil Kinghan (interim)
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Paul Boateng
High Commissioner to South Africa
Succeeded by
Judith Macgregor