Laurie joined Hughes Hall in October 2022. He is the tenth President of Hughes Hall, and the sixteenth head of the College since its foundation in 1885.
Before coming to Hughes Hall, Laurie was a British diplomat. He joined the United Kingdom diplomatic service in 1990, as the Cold War ended and change swept across Europe. His first overseas posting was to Romania in the spring of 1992, where he worked for three years during the post-communist transition.
Laurie served as Ambassador for the United Kingdom three times. He was Ambassador to Afghanistan during the fall of the Republic to the Taliban in August 2021 and the UK’s subsequent evacuation of over 15,000 people from Kabul airport. He was the UK’s Ambassador to Russia from 2016 to 2020, and Deputy Ambassador to Russia from 2007 to 2010. He was Ambassador to Azerbaijan from 2004 to 2007.
In 2020, Laurie worked on the COP 26 climate change conference, as Regional Ambassador for China, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. His other senior roles in London included Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Director for National Security. He was knighted in 2019, for services to British foreign policy.
Laurie regularly writes and gives talks about Russia and a broad range of national and international security issues. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, and a Senior Associate Fellow of the European Leadership Network.
Laurie went to a state school and was the first person in his family to go to university. He read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and completed a PhD on Ezra Pound, the American poet. He is also a keen amateur musician.
Laurie is married to Fiona Bristow. Fiona works in international development, and is the Director of Kanaama Interactive Community Support, a small development NGO working in rural Uganda. Fiona read Natural Sciences at Newnham College, Cambridge, and then studied demography at the London School of Economics.
Fiona and Laurie are both originally from Colchester. They have two sons and a friendly golden retriever.