Britain’s former ambassador to Turkey has been named as the next director general of MI6 to replace Sir Alex Younger, who is due to step aside at the end of the year.
Richard Moore, currently political director at the Foreign Office, is the surprise pick by Downing Street, who had been expected to favour Tom Hurd, a senior Home Office official and Eton schoolmate of Boris Johnson.
Moore served as the British ambassador to Turkey from January 2014 to December 2017, and has also been a deputy national security adviser. A fluent Turkish speaker, he studied PPE at Oxford and first joined MI6, the secret intelligence service, in 1987.
Announcing the appointment, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, said Moore would return to MI6 “with tremendous experience and will oversee the work of a group of men and women whose tireless efforts are rarely seen in public, but which are critical for the security and prosperity of the UK”.
The head of the foreign intelligence service is the only publicly named officer of the service, although he is still also known informally as C, short for chief, the title used internally for leaders of the organisation since its inception in 1909.
Moore said: “SIS [Secret Intelligence Service, as MI6 is officially known] plays a vital role – with MI5 and GCHQ – in keeping the British people safe and promoting UK interests overseas. I look forward to continuing that work alongside the brave and dedicated team at SIS.”
Younger will retire after nearly six years as director general. The top job at all Britain’s three spy agencies is frequently rotated, although Younger was the longest-serving leader of the organisation for over 50 years.