Colin Figures

Sir Colin Frederick Figures KCMG OBE (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.

Colin Figures

Born1 July 1925
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Died8 December 2006 (aged 81)
Esher, United Kingdom
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge
OccupationBritish intelligence officer
Spouse(s)Pamela Ann Timmis
Childrena son and two daughters
Parent(s)Frederick and Muriel Figures
Spying career
AllegianceUnited Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
ServiceSecret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6)
Active1951 – 1985
RankChief of the Secret Intelligence Service
Operation(s)Suez Crisis
Prague Spring
Falklands War


Figures was born in Birmingham, the son of Frederick Figures, an insurance executive, and his wife Muriel.[1] He was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham[2] and served in The Worcestershire Regiment from 1945 until 1948,[2] during which time he studied Russian via the Inter-Service Language Course at Cambridge, and served in Romania and Hungary.[2] He read French and Russian at Pembroke College, Cambridge after being demobilised in 1948, and joined the SIS when he graduated in 1951.[2]

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.[2] He moved from Eastern bloc espionage in 1973 to supervise SIS activities in Northern Ireland.[2] He became deputy head of SIS in 1979 and its ninth Chief in 1981.[2] 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.[3] He received an OBE in 1969 and CMG in 1978, and advanced to KCMG in 1983.[2]

He retired from SIS in 1985, and became Intelligence Co-ordinator at the Cabinet Office.[2] He finally retired in 1989.[2]

He married Pamela Ann Timmis in 1956.[1] He suffered from Parkinson's disease in later life, and died in Esher.[1] He was survived by his wife, and their son and two daughters.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Obituary: Sir Colin Figures The Independent, 29 December 2006
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Obituary: Sir Colin Figures The Times, 15 December 2006
  3. ^ Obituary: Sir Colin Figures Daily Telegraph, 21 December 2006
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Dick Franks
Chief of the SIS
Succeeded by
Sir Christopher Curwen

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