Christopher Curwen

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Person.png Christopher Curwen   Namebase PowerbaseRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Christopher Curwen.jpg
BornChristopher Keith Curwen
9 April 1929
Died18 December 2013 (Age 84)
Bath, UK
Alma materSidney Sussex College Cambridge
Head of MI6

Employment.png Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service

In office
1985 - November 1988
Preceded byColin Figures
Succeeded byColin McColl
"Regarded as a safe pair of hands."[1]

Sir Christopher Curwen was "a South East Asia specialist, who had followed the traditional route to the top through postings to Geneva and Washington".[1]


Christopher Curwen was educated at Sherborne School and Sidney Sussex College Cambridge after which he was commissioned into the 4th Queen's Own Hussars in 1948, serving in Malaya.[2]


Curwen joined MI6 in 1952 and was posted to Thailand in 1954 and Vientiane, Laos in 1956. He returned to the London headquarters in 1958, and then went to Bangkok from 1961 and had two years in Kuala Lumpur.

He spent three years as SIS liaison officer in Washington D.C. from 1968 and was then head of station in Geneva.[1]

Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service

Christopher Curwen succeeded Sir Colin Figures as head of the Secret Intelligence Service in 1985.[3] He was succeed in turn by Sir Colin McColl in November 1988.[1]

His obituaries in The Independent, The Times and The Telegraph said very little about his background but made much of his exfiltration of Oleg Gordievsky from Moscow.[4][5]


  1. a b c d Stephen Dorril, MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service, Touchstone, 2002, p.753.
  2. Burke's Peerage and Gentry
  3. Richard Norton-Taylor, MI6 top job goes to former diplomat / Christopher Curwen allegedly appointed intelligence service head, The Guardian, 16 December 1985.
  5. wgMainCacheType