Oliver Miles CMG

Retired Ambassador


Oliver Miles was born in London in 1936 and now lives in Oxford. He was educated at Ampleforth College and at Merton College, Oxford where he read Classics and then switched to Oriental Studies (Arabic and Turkish). He qualified as a Russian Interpreter during his two years national service in the Royal Navy.

He joined the Foreign Office in 1960. After more language study in Lebanon he served in a number of diplomatic posts – Abu Dhabi, Jordan, South Yemen, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Greece – and also in London. In 1984 he became Ambassador to Libya; following the shooting by the Libyans of Woman Police Constable Yvonne Fletcher in London, he was responsible for breaking off diplomatic relations and withdrawing the British Embassy from Tripoli. He served later in London, New York and Belfast, and as Ambassador to Luxembourg and Greece.

After his retirement from the Diplomatic Service in 1996 he continued to travel widely, mainly in the Middle East and in the former Soviet Union where he has been an election observer in five republics. Since 1999 he has led or advised a number of Trade Missions to Libya including two to post-Qadhafi Libya in 2012. In 2004 he was the organiser of a group of 52 retired ambassadors who wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair questioning policy on Palestine and Iraq. In 2005 he was Cleveland-Dodge Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo.

In retirement he works as a consultant to business, comments in the media on Libya, the Middle East and diplomacy, and edits a newsletter on developments in the Middle East. He is also Deputy Chairman of the Libyan British Business Council. He was for some years chairman of the Society for Libyan Studies, and of Host (a charity which organises hospitality in British homes for foreign students in Britain).

He and his wife Julia have four children and eight grandchildren.