Michael Shipster

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Person.png Michael ShipsterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(diplomat, spook)

Michael Shipster is a British diplomat and, according to journalist Ron Suskind, a top MI6 officer.

South Africa

Shipster was stationed in South Africa during the transition to democracy. While there he made the acquaintance of BBC journalist Fergal Keane.

It wasn't until I moved to South Africa that the call of the stage returned in the person of a British diplomat named Michael Shipster. I'd met Shippo at a party and we got to talking about music. In a few minutes we'd set up a guitar session and the rest is history. Well, sort of, South African history at any rate.
In the closing days of the white empire Johannesburg was a city of never- ending parties where people were only too happy to dance away their worries. Shippo and I saw the potential opening and formed a band. Our drummer was a cameraman for German TV, our bass player a sound recordist. In mockery of a phrase from the anti -communist paranoia of the apartheid years we called the band "Total Onslaught". We were hot. Very hot. We played about four gigs but I am sure South Africa has never forgotten them.Pinstripe gives way to jeans for new elite
The final epic performance came at the time of the first multi-racial election. The week after the votes were cast and the new ANC government came to power, we performed to a crowd of journalists and politicians in the lush premises of the Transvaal Automobile Club. The new deputy Minister of Defence, Ronnie Kasrils (a famous anti-apartheid activist), joined us on stage. It was a great night in the middle of extraordinary times.[1]

Iraq Intelligence

Shipster is mentioned in Ron Suskind's book, The Way of the World:

Suskind said that at the beginning of 2003 MI6 sent one of its top agents, Michael Shipster, to the region. Mr Shipster held secret meetings in Jordan with Tahir Jalil Habbush, the head of Iraqi Intelligence. The meetings were confirmed by Nigel Inkster, former assistant director of MI6.
Mr Inkster also confirmed that Mr Shipster was told by Mr Habbush that there were no illicit weapons in Iraq. Mr Inkster refused to comment last night.[2]


Shipster received an entry in Who's Who on being promoted to the rank of counsellor in 2005:

Michael Shipster, 53, a political counsellor in Washington, who served in Moscow during the 1980s and in Johannesburg during South Africa's move towards multiparty government. Where past diplomats might have listed Greek poetry or fly-fishing as their favourite pastimes, he is more typical of the new breed of envoy. Among his hobbies are "messing about on bikes and boats".[3]


The mysterious Tuuli, real name Madeleine Shipster, found fame as the body double to Elle 'The Body' Macpherson - when the Australian supermodel was having a baby - in a series of raunchy adverts for her underwear line.
Educated at the exclusive Marlborough College, she is the daughter of top British diplomat Michael Shipster, who received the OBE for his work in places as far afield as Moscow and Lusaka in Zambia.[4]



  1. I was a teenage popstar, by Fergal Keane, The Independent, 19 November 1999.
  2. White House 'buried British intelligence on Iraq WMDs', by Tim Reid and Sam Coates, The Times, 6 August 2008.
  3. Pinstripe gives way to jeans for new elite, by Richard Besston, The Times, 14 January 2005.
  4. I love you Tuuli, madly, deeply, by Richard Kay, Daily Mail, 23 March 2007