To report an imminent threat call 999 or ring the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321
Current UK threat level: SEVERE Read more about threat levels >>

Sir Howard Smith (Director General 1978–81)

Sir Howard Smith (1919–96) joined the Service after a long and distinguished career with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

During his 32 years in the Foreign Service he held a variety of posts, including serving as the British ambassador to Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.

He became Director General of the Security Service in 1978. He was the first DG to be appointed from the diplomatic service; the Prime Minister of the day, James Callaghan, later explained that he had wanted "to bring someone into the office from a different culture."

Under Sir Howard's management, the Service became more deeply involved with counter-terrorist work in response to the growing threat from Northern Ireland's paramilitary groups and international terrorism. He retired in March 1981.

Fact or Fiction?
Films and TV give an accurate insight into the work of MI5.

True False

Latest News

view ALL News

MI5 pays tribute to D-Day veterans

Andrew Parker, Director General of MI5, is proud to attend the commemorations in Portsmouth for the 75th anniversary of...

Read Full Article ›

MI5 and Police issue joint message on terrorism

Andrew Parker, Director General of MI5, and Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, explain how...

Read Full Article ›