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Sir Alex Younger
Alex Younger.gif
Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service
Alexander William Younger

(1963-07-04) 4 July 1963 (age 56)
ResidenceLondon, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of St Andrews
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
OccupationIntelligence officer
Sarah Hopkins (m. 1993)
AwardsCompanion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Espionage activity
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Service branchSecret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6)
Service years1991 - present
RankChief of the Secret Intelligence Service (from 2014)

Sir Alexander William Younger KCMG (born 4 July 1963) is a career British intelligence officer for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) who, since November 2014, has served as the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service,[1][2] succeeding Sir John Sawers on his retirement.[3] In April 2019, the Government extended Younger's contract to maintain stability through the Brexit negotiations,[4] a move which would make him the longest serving MI6 chief in 50 years.[5]

Early life

Younger comes from a military family. His father had a very distinguished military career. He was born in Westminster, London on 4 July 1963.[6] He was educated at Marlborough College and graduated from the University of St Andrews with a degree in economics.[7][8] He married Sarah Hopkins in Borgo a Mozzano, Tuscany in 1993. Younger takes pride in his Scottish heritage.[9][10]


Military service

Younger was sponsored by the British Army through university. He was commissioned into the Royal Scots on 5 September 1986 as a second lieutenant (on probation).[11] As a University Candidate he was a full-time student at university and trained in his spare time. On 10 December 1986, he transferred to the Scots Guards.[12][13]

On 16 June 1987, his commission was confirmed and dated to 5 September 1986; this signified the start of his full-time military service. He was granted seniority in the rank of second lieutenant from 9 April 1983. He was promoted to lieutenant, which was back dated to 5 September 1986, and was granted seniority from 9 April 1985.[14] He was promoted to captain on 5 April 1989.[15] On 10 April 1990, he transferred to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers, thereby ending his active military service.[16]

Intelligence work

MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross, London
MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross, London

Younger joined SIS in 1991.[2] He joined the service at the same time as Richard Tomlinson, who in his book The Big Breach, portrayed him as 'Spencer', a St Andrews graduate and former Scots Guard who was recruited while working for the Halo Trust in Afghanistan.[17] Younger served in the Middle East and Afghanistan. He became head of counter-intelligence in 2009, in which role he was involved in security for the London Olympics 2012. He became Deputy Director in 2012, before being nominated as Chief in October 2014.[18]

In a leaked list of 160 MI6 agents - which was originally believed to have been released by Richard Tomlinson, although government officials subsequently "acknowledged that the list did not come from Mr Tomlinson" - Alex Younger is mentioned as having been posted to Vienna in 1995.[19] As of 2015, Younger was paid a salary of between £160,000 and £164,999 by SIS, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.[20]

Notable speeches


In 2016 Younger said cyber-attacks, propaganda and subversion from hostile states pose a fundamental threat to European democracies including the UK. In a rare speech by an MI6 chief while in office, Younger did not specifically name Russia, but left no doubt that this was the target of his remarks.[21][22]


In December 2018, Younger raised concerns about Huawei's role in the UK's new 5G mobile network.[23]

Matthew Hedges

In December 2018 Younger gave a rare speech at the University of St Andrews, making emphasis of the need for fourth-generation espionage and fusing human skills with technical innovation. This was the second public speech in the four years since his appointment as "C" of the MI6.[24] During the speech Younger addressed the case of Matthew Hedges, British university student who was arrested in Dubai and later convicted of being the Captain of British MI6, in which capacity he allegedly worked as an undercover agent in the UAE. Younger said he was perplexed by what has happened and that there are some frank conversations ahead between Britain and the UAE.[25] Hedges was later pardoned by UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and reunited with his wife in the UK.[26]

Shamima Begum

On 16 February 2019, when interviewed by the British press, Younger warned the British public about 19-year-old Jihadi Bride Shamima Begum who ran away to join the Islamic State in Syria in 2013 with two other religious muslims including Amira Abase, and was heavily-pregnant with her third child. Younger told the press that people like Shamima are likely to have acquired the skills or connections that make them potentially very dangerous. Home Secretary Sajid Javid later chose to strip Shamima Begum of her British citizenship, leaving the future of her and her son unclear.[27] Richard Barrett, who is a former director of global counter-terrorism at MI6, told the press that Begum should be given a chance to rebuild her life with her son. He also suggested it would be unreasonable to expect the Syrian Defence Force to look after her indefinitely.[28] Barrett stated that British society should be strong enough to reabsorb her. He said the immediate reaction of the British government “has been a complete lack of concern for her plight”.[29]

Portrayal in popular culture

Ralph Fiennes plays Younger’s fictional counterpart ‘M’ in No Time To Die, 2020 James Bond film. In August 2019 Younger and his colleagues visited James Bond film set at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, where he shook hands with Fiennes and other actors.[30]

Personal life

Sailing and hiking

Younger enjoys mountain hiking and sailing just like Sir Mansfield Cumming, Royal Navy officer who lived on a boat in Southampton before becoming the Head of MI6 in 1909.[31][32]


Younger had three children with his wife. On 30 March 2019, Younger's son, Sam, was killed in a motoring accident in Stirlingshire.[33]


Younger was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2011 Birthday Honours and Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to the United Kingdom.[34]


Younger is passionate about helping charitable causes and has helped to raise money for Help for Heroes, The Poppy Factory charity, Sea Cadets Foundation, The Royal British Legion, Women's Royal Naval Service Benevolent Trust, The Officers' Association, SAS Regimental Association, SAS Clocktower Foundation, Forces Pension Society and other charities.[35]

See also


  1. ^ "Appointment of the new Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)". GOV.UK. Press releases. Her Majesty's Government. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b "MI6 officer Alex Younger named as new SIS chief". BBC News. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  3. ^ MacAskill, Ewen; Norton-Taylor, Richard (26 June 2014). "MI6 chief Sir John Sawers to step down". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  4. ^ Evans, Michael (13 February 2019). "MI6 chief Alex Younger set to stay in post over Brexit fears". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  5. ^ Coughlin, Con (12 April 2019). "Alex Younger agrees to become the longest serving MI6 chief in 50 years". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  7. ^ "MI6 'C' Delivers Rare Public Speech at St Andrews University". 3 December 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  8. ^ Pettifor, Tom (8 December 2016). "Everything you need to know about Britain's top spy Alex Younger as he warns of ISIS threat". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  9. ^ ‘YOUNGER, Alexander William’, Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014
  10. ^ Younger, Alexandra (14 February 1994). "Wilder shores of love: Five couples who went abroad to get married tell their stories to Alexandra Younger". The Independent. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  11. ^ "No. 50733". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 December 1986. p. 15534.
  12. ^ "No. 50813". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 January 1987. p. 1079.
  13. ^ "No. 50907". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 May 1987. p. 5856.
  14. ^ "No. 50965". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 1987. p. 7669.
  15. ^ "No. 51696". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 April 1989. p. 4292.
  16. ^ "No. 52138". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 May 1990. p. 9158.
  17. ^ Tomlinson, Richard. The Big Breach (PDF). p. 31. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  18. ^ Evans, Michael; Haynes, Deborah (3 October 2014). "Games anti terror chief Alex Younger named as Britain's new top spy". The Times. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  19. ^ Du Chateau, Carroll (30 June 2000). "Outcast: the spy who wants to spill the beans". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Senior officials 'high earners' salaries as at 30 September 2015 - GOV.UK". 17 December 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  21. ^ MacAskill, Ewen (8 December 2016). "Hostile states pose 'fundamental threat' to Europe, says MI6 chief". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  22. ^ Noack, Rick (10 January 2018). "Everything we know so far about Russian election meddling in Europe". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  23. ^ "BBC News: Huawei: 'Deep concerns' over firm's role in UK 5G upgrade". BBC News. 27 December 2018.
  24. ^ "MI6 Chief gives a rare speech". BBC News. 28 December 2019.
  25. ^ "Alex Younger: MI6 chief 'perplexed' over Matthew Hedges case". 29 August 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  26. ^ "Matthew Hedges: British academic pardoned by UAE". BBC News. 29 August 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  27. ^ "ISIS 'jihadi brides have connections and skills to be very dangerous,' warns MI6 chief". 29 December 2019.
  28. ^ "'British nationals have a right to come to the UK' MI6 chief says as IS school girl makes plea to come home". Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  29. ^ "Former MI6 director says Shamima Begum should be allowed home". Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  30. ^ "JAMES BOND 25's set was visited by the real-life MI6 boss, according to a 007 source". 28 August 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  31. ^ "MI6: Alex named as new head". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  32. ^ "Career spy Alex Younger to head Britain's MI6". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  33. ^ "MI6 chief's son dies in crash on private Stirlingshire estate". Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  34. ^ "No. 59808". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2011. p. 3.
  35. ^ "No. 62666". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 June 2019. p. B3.

External links

Positions held

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Sawers
Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service
November 2014–
This page was last edited on 19 October 2019, at 17:15
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