Sir John has had a distinguished career in the British Diplomatic Service. He joined the Foreign and Colonial Office (FCO) in 1980. After receiving Arabic language training at the School of Oriental and African Studies and elsewhere, he served mainly in the Middle East, interspersed with postings in Malaysia and Burma (Myanmar) .

In the 1980's and 1990's John served in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait. He was subsequently HM Consul-General, Jerusalem, then Ambassador to Syria, soon to become FCO Director for the Middle East and North Africa.  This led to his further appointment as our Ambassador to Iraq.

In 2011 he became Special Representative to the National Transitional Council in Libya and subsequently Ambassador there, before his last diplomatic appointment as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2012-15).

He took an active part in Sir John Chilcott's Iraq Inquiry and led a Policy Review into the Muslim Brotherhood and Political Islamism. Until his retirement from the FCO in 2015, he was viewed as the government's senior diplomatic Arabist.

John is an Associate Fellow of Chatham House, member of the Labour Middle East Council, a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange, and co-lead of the Westphalia for the Middle East programme at Cambridge University's Centre for Geopolitics.

Knighted KCMG in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 2011, his geopolitical knowledge and experience enable him to give unique insights into political situations and strategies.