David Frost

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David Frost (born 21 February 1965) is Special Adviser to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, as of November 2016

A former British diplomat, he was a senior director on loan to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills until November 2013. In September 2013 Frost was appointed CEO-designate of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and took up the role on 2nd January 2014. [1]

From career diplomat to alcohol lobbyist

Frost's early postings between 1987 and 2001 with the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office included stints in New York (UN Mission), Brussels (EU Representation) and Nicosia, as well as desk jobs in the FCO.

Following this Frost served as Counsellor in the British Embassy Paris until 2003, after which he was appointed Head EU-Internal Department, then Director European Union for the FCO.[1] In 2006 he became the British Ambassador to Denmark for two years, returning in October 2008 to London where he was appointed FCO Director for Policy Planning, and worked closely with the UK Foreign Secretary.

In October 2010 Frost became BIS's Director for Europe, Trade, and International, on loan from the FCO. There he is responsible for managing budget of £20m and 160 staff, 'driving major improvement in HMG’s trade work, working closely with major British companies and industry groups'.[1]

Scottish Whisky Association

Alcohol badge.jpg This article is part of the Spinwatch public health oriented Alcohol Portal project.

Interviewed by an alcohol trade magazine in September 2013, Frost said of his new appointment as SWA chief executive:

My career to date working in economic, trade, and EU affairs in the UK and overseas has given me a wealth of experience of global commercial issues which will stand me in good stead in my new role in the Scotch Whisky industry.
I am excited about taking up this new position at the helm of this highly-respected trade body which provides an invaluable service to the industry. I am also very much looking forward to living and working in Edinburgh. [2]

Frost will take over from Gavin Hewitt, who is stepping down after 10 years with the SWA. Hewitt said of his impending successor:

David Frost’s experience of working closely on economic affairs in the UK and overseas fits him well for the role of SWA chief executive.[2]

Questions raised over 'obvious' conflict of interest

The Scotch Whisky Association is currently involved in legal action in Scottish courts which is delaying the implementation of the Minimum Unit Price legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012. Part of its campaign against minimum pricing has been focused on the trade implications for Europe.

Scottish and European health campaigners have expressed surprise that a serving senior civil servant in a key Department dealing with the implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol has been confirmed as the incoming SWA chief Executive. [3]

Dr Peter Rice, chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) asked: Will [Frost] continue to represent the UK government in trade discussions involving alcohol until he takes up his SWA post? When did his relationship with the SWA start and what role has he played in the development of his Department’s policy on minimum unit pricing?”[4]

Mariann Skar, Secretary General at the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, Eurocare, shares the concerns of the Scottish organisations:

What is happening in Scotland is a situation where there is a clear conflict of interest. Federal Governments should impose a minimum of 12 months quarantine periods before regulators may return to private enterprise.

As of 4 October 2013 no public statement in relation to David Frost's new job had been released nor posted on the website of the UK government's Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which advises the Prime Minister or other ministers on senior Crown Servants' appointments after leaving government within a two-year timeframe.




Twitter: @DavidFrostBIS



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 David Frost CMG, LinkedIn profile, undated, accessed 4 October 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Andy Young, SWA announces new chief executive, The Drinks Business, 16 September 2013
  3. Eurocare, SHAAP, Alcohol Focus Scotland, Alcohol charities fear conflict of interest, PRESS RELEASE Brussels, Belgium, 1st October 2013
  4. Eurocare, Alcohol charities fear conflict of interest, PRESS RELEASE Brussels, Belgium, 1st October 2013