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Sir John Holmes

Sir John Holmes, Chair of the Electoral Commission


Term: 1 Ionawr 2017 to 31 Rhagfyr 2020

Sir John Holmes was educated at Preston Grammar School and Balliol College, Oxford. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1973 and served in a wide range of diplomatic roles in London, Moscow, Paris, New Delhi and Lisbon.

In 1995, Sir John joined Prime Minister John Major in Downing Street as his Private Secretary (Overseas Affairs) and diplomatic adviser. He continued this role with Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1997 to 1999, becoming Principal Private Secretary, and was a key figure in the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement.

In 1999, Sir John was appointed as the British Ambassador in Lisbon, moving to Paris as Ambassador from 2001 to 2007. He then served as UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, before taking over the post of Director of the Ditchley Foundation from fellow board member Sir Jeremy Greenstock. Sir John is married to Penny and they have three daughters.

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