Mark Allen (businessman)

Mark Allen (businessman)

Sir Mark Allen KCMG is a retired former United Kingdom spy, turned businessman and academic lecturer.

Allen was educated at Downside School, a private school in Somerset, and having studied Arabic at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, he joined the British Foreign Service, where he worked for 30 years. After studying at the Middle East Centre for Arabic Studies, a claimed British ‘spy school’ in a village near Beirut,[1] he was posted to Abu Dhabi in 1974, where he developed a love of falconry from his contacts with Bedouin to the extent that he wrote a series of books on the subject. He then spent much of the rest of his operational career in the Middle East.[2]

In 2003, as head of MI6’s counter-terrorism unit, Allen and Stephen Kappes of the CIA, lead talks which resulted in an end of support for terrorist activity by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s Libya, and a resultant end of international sanctions against Libya.[1] After losing out to John Scarlett in his bid to become head of MI6, in which he was supported by his friend Jack Straw, Allen resigned in 2004.[1]

After a six month sabbatical, Allen became a Senior Advisor to the Monitor Group, a global consulting and private equity firm.[2] He was also approved by the Cabinet Office and then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to be allowed to immediately work as a special advisor for BP.[1][2] Allen used his contacts in both the United Kingdom and Libya to resolve the issues surrounding the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi in relations to the Lockerbie bombing. Allen developed his relationships with the Libyan regieme through Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, who studied for Ph.D at the London School of Economics. BP later signed a £15Bn contract with Libya, for a joint venture in oil exploration and extraction.[1] In 2010, he was requested to appear before the US Senate committee investigating the release of al-Megrahi in relationship to BP's oil deal, something which as an advisor to BP he was blocked from doing so.[3] In 2007, he helped broker the release of Bulgarian nurses imprisoned in Libya on charges of having injected HIV virus into children.[4]

On 6 September 2011, The Independent newspaper claimed that Allen was implicated in the arrest of Abdelhakim Belhaj in March 2004 in Thailand, and the subsequent torture of Belhaj by Gaddafi's regime in Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, Libya.[5]

Allen is presently a Senior Associate and honorary fellow of St. Antony's College, Oxford,[6] and is a member of the board at LSE Ideas.[2]

Allen was inducted into the Order of St Michael and St George in 2002, and knighted in 2005.[2] A devout Roman Catholic,[4] he lives in Westminster.[1]


  • Arabs: A New Perspective, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006.
  • With Hossein Amirsadeghi, Sky Hunters: The Passion of Falconry, Thames & Hudson, 24 November 2008
  • Tribes: Tribalism in the Arab World, Continuum International Publishing Group, due October 2009.


External links

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