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Sir Christopher Meyer KCMG

In office
Preceded by Sir John Kerr
Succeeded by Sir David Manning

In office
? – 1997
Preceded by Sir Nigel Broomfield
Succeeded by Sir Paul Lever

Born 22 February 1944 (1944-02-22) (age 66)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Catherine Meyer (née Laylle)
Children 4

Sir Christopher John Rome Meyer, KCMG (born 22 February 1944) is a former British Ambassador to the United States (1997–2003), and the former chair of the Press Complaints Commission. He is married to Catherine Meyer.




Background and earlier career

Meyer was born in 1944 to Reggie Meyer and his wife Eve. Reggie was a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF who was killed in action four days before his son was born.


Meyer was educated at the independent school Lancing College, in the village of Lancing in West Sussex, followed by Lycee Henri IV in Paris and Peterhouse at the University of Cambridge, where he graduated in History (he has been an Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse since 2002). After graduating, he attended the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies at Bologna.

Diplomatic career

He began his career in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1966 in the West and Central African Department as desk officer for French-speaking African countries. Following a year's training in the Russian language, his first posting, at the age of 24, was as third secretary to the British embassy in Moscow in 1968, where for his first year he was the ambassador's private secretary. From 1970 to 1973 he was second secretary at the British embassy in Madrid. This was followed by five years in London, firstly, as the head of the Soviet section in the East European and Soviet Department; and,secondly, as speech-writer to three successive Foreign Secretaries: James Callaghan, Anthony Crosland and David (now Lord) Owen. Meyer was then sent from 1978 to 82 to the UK permanent representation to the European Communities in Brussels, followed by two years as political counsellor in the British embassy in Moscow. He returned to London in 1984 to become press secretary to the Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey (now Lord) Howe, a position which he occupied until 1988, when he went for a year to Harvard University's Centre for International Affairs as a Visiting Fellow. This was followed by five years at the British embassy in Washington as minister-commercial and deputy head of mission. He returned to London in 1994 to become Prime Minister John Major's press secretary and government spokesman. He was posted briefly to Germany as ambassador in 1997, but was transferred in the same year to Washington as Britain's ambassador to the United States.

HM Ambassador to Washington, DC

Ambassador Christopher Meyer meeting with Donald H. Rumsfeld on 30 October 2001.

His final posting was as British Ambassador to the United States from 1997 until his retirement in 2003. Meyer gave evidence about his time in the role to the Iraq Inquiry in November 2009.[1]


In 1998, Her Majesty the Queen appointed him Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG).[2]

Meyer is a non-executive director of GKN [3] and the Arbuthnot Banking Group.[4] He is also a member of the International Advisory Board of Fleishman-Hillard,[5] a member of the Executive Committee of The Pilgrims, a Governor of the English Speaking Union and an Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge University.

Meyer has recently been named the Morehead-Cain Alumni Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina[6]


Chris Meyer memoirs.jpg

He published his memoirs, DC Confidential, in November 2005, with extracts serialised in The Guardian and the Daily Mail. The book gave rise to considerable controversy, with the British government declaring it an “unacceptable” breach of trust, while a group of MPs urged him to “publish and be damned”.[7] Meyer gave a detailed rebuttal of his critics in written evidence submitted to the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Administration.[8] In 2005, the memoirs were included in his books of the year by Jim Hoagland, the authoritative Washington Post commentator on foreign affairs, who described them as “thorough” and “credible”.[9]

In 2009 he published a second book, Getting Our Way, a 500-year history of British diplomacy that accompanied a BBC 4 television series of the same name. He was again in the news with this book, serialized this time in the Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph, and again openly critical of the Labour Government under which he served.[10]


Meyer has presented several television and radio documentaries on diplomacy for the BBC, including Mortgaged to the Yanks (BBC Two/BBC Four 2006), Corridors of Power, How to Succeed at Summits, and Lying Abroad, all for BBC Radio 4 in 2006 and 2007. These were followed in 2009 by a BBC Radio 4 documentary series on the press called The Watchdog and the Feral Beast. He has most recently presented his BBC television series Getting Our Way.

Meyer, when asked (in an interview with the BBC) "Which foreign government has the most influence on Washington?", unequivocally responded: "Israel." When he was then asked "And then?", he said, "Well, in the hit parade I think Israel is in a class of its own..."[11]

Personal life

Since 1997 he has been married to Catherine Meyer (née Laylle). He has two sons from a previous marriage, and two stepsons from his present marriage. He sits on the board of the charity his wife founded, PACT (Parents and Abducted Children Together).

Notes and references


  • Christopher Meyer (2005), DC Confidential, Weidenfeld & Nicolson. (ISBN 0-297-85114-4)
  • Christopher Meyer (2009), Getting Our Way: 500 Years of Adventure and Intrigue: the Inside Story of British Diplomacy, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (ISBN 0-297-85875-0)


  1. ^ "Blair's view on Iraq 'tightened' after Bush meeting". BBC News (BBC). 26 November 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Sir Christopher Meyer". London Speaker Bureau. Retrieved 1 October 2006. 
  3. ^ "Public announcement by GKN". 14 July 2003. 
  4. ^ "Public announcement by Arbuthnot Banking Group". 5 September 2007. 
  5. ^ "Public announcement by Fleishman-Hillard". 21 February 2008. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Early Day Motion, House of Commons". 10 October 2005. 
  8. ^ "Supplementary Memorandum by Sir Christopher Meyer KCMG". Volume 2 of Public Administration Select Committee Report “Whitehall Confidential? The Publication of Political Memoirs”. 18 July 2006. 
  9. ^ "Foreign Affairs to Remember". Washington Post. 29 December 2005. 
  10. ^ "Afghan war is waste of blood and treasure says ex-British envoy to US". Thaindian News. 18 October 2009. 
  11. ^ BBC World Service - The Interview

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Nigel Broomfield
British Ambassador to Germany
Succeeded by
Sir Paul Lever
Preceded by
Sir John Kerr
British Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Sir David Manning
Media offices
Preceded by
Robert Pinker
Chair of the Press Complaints Commission
Succeeded by
Peta Buscombe


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