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Obituary: Sir Michael Hadow

Reginald Michael Hadow, diplomat: born Chittagong, Bangladesh 17 August 1915; Private Secretary to HM Ambassador, Moscow 1942-45; Under- Secretary, External Affairs Department, Delhi 1946-47; Foreign Office 1948-52, Private Secretary to Minister of State 1949-52; Head of Chancery, Mexico City 1952-54; Foreign Office 1955-58; Head of Levant Department and promoted Counsellor 1958; Counsellor, British Embassy, Paris 1959-62; CMG 1962; Head of News Department, Foreign Office 1962-65; Ambassador to Israel 1965-69; Ambassador to Argentina 1969-72; KCMG 1971; married thirdly 1976 Daphne Sieff (died 1988); died 22 December 1993.

THERE IS a bond between people who have lived in the same house at different times. Michael Hadow and I lived in Paris in the Gate House of the British Embassy in the Faubourg St Honore - he in the late Fifties and early Sixties and I a few years later. Thus in the attractive if inconvenient little house in the courtyard of the embassy, assigned to the senior counsellor as a sort of tied cottage, we shared the experience of a charming drawing room, an austere dining room, an impossibly noisy bedroom, and the persistent hiss - apparently irremediable - of the water-closet system on the first floor.

Hadow came into the Foreign Service about the same time as I did, soon after the end of the Second World War. But he had already had some experience of government service in the Indian Civil Service, which he had entered in 1937 and in which he was beginning to make his mark when the transfer of power put an end to any ambition of an Englishman within the Indian services. I first knew him in the Foreign Office in 1950 at the beginning of the Korean war when we were both Private Secretaries, he to the Minister of State, Kenneth Younger, and I to the Permanent Under- Secretary. We had frequent contact in those days and I recall several occasions when his mental agility extricated us from some minor crisis or bureaucratic tangle. He was at that time a self-confident, flamboyant, not to say brash, operator who served Kenneth Younger and later Selwyn Lloyd with great loyalty and ability. We did not serve together again but we knew each other quite well and collaborated at various times and in various places over the following years, especially in Paris at the time of the U2 summit of 1960.

Hadow's two embassies at the end of his career were Tel Aviv and Buenos Aires. I think it was undoubtedly his embassy to Israel that he found the more enjoyable. There were those who thought his advocacy of the Israeli point of view somewhat uncritical and sometimes for that reason counter-productive, but he never hesitated to speak his mind. In the Argentine he was spared the vicissitudes of his predecessors and his successors and may be said to have had a fairly smooth passage. However, he correctly predicted that one day, under an irresponsible government, Argentina would probably attempt an invasion of the Falkland Islands.

Hadow was by no means a conventional diplomat. An exceptionally gifted linguist, he flourished in the less orthodox post. He particularly enjoyed his contacts with journalists when head of the News Department. He might have aspired, if the timing had been right, to the embassy in Moscow but I doubt if he really had the calibre for the topmost reaches of the service.

I scarcely saw him in recent years. His main public activity after retirement was in the support of Israeli causes of which he was a persistent and effective promoter. Whenever I met him I found him as jaunty as ever, still addicted to the loud checked suits he usually used to wear when younger. He was left a widower for the last few years of his life, having married three times.

(Photograph omitted)