James Blyth

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Lord Blyth of Rowingtom

Lord Blyth of Rowington or James Blyth is a British businessman and member of the British House of Lords, currently on leave of absence from July 2017.

He is a former non-executive director and chairman of Diageo from 2000-2008 when he was succeeded by Dr. Franz Humer.[1].

Arms Industry interests, directorships and secondment

Lord Blyth's other interests include arms sales: he ran the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), the UK Ministry of Defence’s arms export promotion department, from 1981 to 1985, to which he was seconded from Lucas Aerospace ltd, an arms manufacturer [2]. DESO's aims are to encourage arms sales by UK companies. It is a forum for arms industry executives to enter the heart of government, through secondments, in order to help the industry sell arms with direct government support. [3] [4]. In addition Lord Blyth was Non-Executive Director of British Aerospace from 1990 to 1994 [5]. He has also been Chief Executive of the Plessey Company.

Other corporate roles

He has also been Chair of Boots Company PLC, which he left in 2000 having been Chief Executive since 1987. He is also currently Non-Executive Director of Anixter inc, and Vice-Chair of Greenhill inc a global investment banking firm. Sir Anthony Greener, Chair of Diageo until 2000, announced Lord Blyth's appointment congratulating 'his experience with government,' an 'excellent qualification for the next chair of Diageo,' pointing to the value to the company of a director with experience of working with government, given its priorities at that time [6].

Current Positions

  • July 2000 - Chairman - Diageo plc
  • October 2002 – Senior Advisor Greenhill & Co (having been Vice Chairman )
  • Non-executive director - Anixter Inc

Previous appointments


  1. Diageo Website Lord Blyth of Rowington accessed 1st June 2008
  2. Hemscott Website Biogs - viewed 18.01.05
  3. DESO website: MOD Policy - viewed 18.01.05
  4. For more on DESO: Campaign Against the Arms Trade: Political Influence - viewed 18.01.05
  5. Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Brothers in Arms - viewed 29.11.04
  6. Diageo News Release, 7 October 1999, 'Board Appointments at Diageo' accessed 24/04/05