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Sir Leslie Fielding, KCMG, MA, Hon LLD, FRSA, FRGS

Sir Leslie Fielding

Educated at Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet and after army service as a subaltern in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Leslie Fielding went up to Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1953, to read Economics (but switched to History – taking a First – and dabbled in Theology). On graduation in 1956, he came second in the open competition for entry to the Foreign (later, Diplomatic) Service.

This was not to be a farewell to academia. Sir Leslie went on to study Persian at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (1956-57), was later a Visiting Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford, 1977-78 (when he married Sally Harvey, a medieval history don at St Hilda's and an expert on Domesday Book and Anglo-Norman governance); and eventually became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex (1987-92). He chaired the Geography Working Group for the National Curriculum in Schools and served for ten years as Honorary President of the University Association for Contemporary European Studies. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of his Cambridge College in 1990.

In the Diplomatic Service, Leslie Fielding spent seven years in the Foreign Office in London (in the Western Organisations Department and in the Planning Staff or ‘Think Tank’), as well as serving political assignments in overseas embassies in Tehran, Singapore, Phnom Penh and Paris. Fielding made both Disco and Ballroom dancing part of Embassy life, and in 1965 was awarded the title " Number One Twister of Cambodia" by the Head of State, at a Ball at the royal palace. He joined the External Relations Directorate-General of the European Commission in Brussels in 1973, as the Director with special responsibility for Europe's relations with the US and the Commonwealth, but also for agricultural issues in international trade, for the EC Protocol Service and for the EC's overseas diplomatic representation. He subsequently became EC Ambassador in Tokyo (1978-82), returning to Brussels as Director-General (1982-87). Sir Leslie was knighted in 1988. He was for some years a non-executive director of IBM (Europe) and a Special Adviser to Panasonic (Europe).

Leslie Fielding has contributed to two anthologies of travel stories; Travellers’ Tales, 1999 and More Tales from the Travellers’, 2005. His book Before the Killing Fields: Witness to Cambodia and the Vietnam War, with a preface by Chris Patten, was published in 2008. (Synopsis is elsewhere on the website, together with extracts from the ‘rave reviews’). He wrote an autobiography in 2009, entitled ‘Kindly Call Me God’. In 2011, he published two works of fiction: a novel, ‘The Mistress of the Bees’ and a screenplay about Pol Pot, ‘Twilight over the Temples’. His latest work is ‘Mentioned in Despatches: Is Diplomacy Dead?’ 2012. (Second edition, 2014.)

He has been a Lay Reader in the Church of England for thirty years: in Exeter, Tokyo, Gibraltar, Chichester and Hereford Dioceses - serving also on the General Synod. He was made a 'Reader Emeritus' by the Lord Bishop of Hereford in 2007. He now very much approves of women priests, despite initial scepticism.

The Fieldings live in the Welsh Marches, near Ludlow. Their daughter, Emma, and son, Leo, both live in London - the former, (now Mrs Lawson) with two little ones, Jack and Grace.