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Colin Figures : biography

1 July 1925 - 8 December 2006

Sir Colin Frederick Figures (1 July 1925 – 8 December 2006) was Head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (known as MI6) from 1981 to 1985. He was deputy secretary and Intelligence Co-ordinator of the Cabinet Office from 1985 to 1989.


Figures was born in Birmingham, the son of Frederick Figures, an insurance executive, and his wife Muriel. The Independent, 29 December 2006 He was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham The Times, 15 December 2006 and served in The Worcestershire Regiment from 1945 until 1948, during which time he studied Russian via the Inter-Service Language Course at Cambridge, and served in Romania and Hungary. He read French and Russian at Pembroke College, Cambridge after being demobilised in 1948, and joined the SIS when he graduated in 1951.

After a period in London, he served in Germany, served in Amman during the Suez Crisis, in Warsaw, and in Vienna during the Prague Spring, before returning to London. He moved from Eastern bloc espionage in 1973 to supervise SIS activities in Northern Ireland. He became deputy head of SIS in 1979 and its ninth Chief in 1981. The following year, SIS was involved in the Falklands War, seeking to prevent Argentina obtaining stocks of Exocet missiles to be carried by their Super Etendard attack aircraft. Daily Telegraph, 21 December 2006 He received an OBE in 1969 and CMG in 1978, and advanced to KCMG in 1983.

He retired from SIS in 1985, and became Intelligence Co-ordinator at the Cabinet Office. He finally retired in 1989.

He married Pamela Ann Timmis in 1956. He suffered from Parkinson's disease in later life, and died in Esher. He was survived by his wife, and their son and two daughters.

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