In June 2009, Sir John was announced as the chair of the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.
Since 1999 he has been the chairman of the B&CE (building and civil engineering) Group, which provides ‘on a not-for-profit basis’ pensions, insurance, holiday pay and other benefits to the construction industry. Sir John’s other appointments include staff counsellor to the National Criminal Intelligence Service, chairman of the Police Foundation and member of the National Archives Council. He was appointed CB in 1990, KCB in 1994, GCB in 1998 and became a Privy Counsellor in 2004.
In accepting this appointment Sir John acknowledged ‘a serious obligation to Brighton College, as well as a strong sense of attachment’, and we are absolutely delighted that he joins us as the Association enters a new era as an integral part of the school.
Born on 22 April 1939, he was educated at Brighton College and Pembroke College, Cambridge (Open Scholar; MA, English and Languages; Hon. Fellow 1999).
- When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
Academic or Whitehall warrior - it took six years of experience in Academia for Whitehall to win!
- What are you now you've grown up?
Long retired from Whitehall, chairing all sorts of things, including the Iraq Inquiry.
- What is your best memory of school?
Most memories pretty good (except the cross-country squad in February). Best was superb teaching by Geoffrey Lees(English) and Norman Frith (Latin and history).
- What was the best piece of advice you were given?
best advice was "try your best at things you're not good at". So, Third Fifteen and Third Eleven.
- What does your job involve?
The Iraq Inquiry - eight years of our contemporary history, and momentous human and political events.
- What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Keeping steady judgment when sailing through troubled waters.
- What have you done that you are most proud of?
Northern Ireland - helping the transition from war to peace.
- What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
Just had two intra-ocular lens implants, so vision is brighter and better than it ever was in my life.
- What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
My three objects are my piano, the Oxford English Dictionary (12 vols), and a very good bed.
- How would you like to be remembered?
To be remembered as a really good squash player - which I never was, but good enough to get me off the cross-country squad in the Spring term.