Richard Sykes (diplomat)

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Sir Richard Sykes (c. 1921 – 22 March 1979) was the British Ambassador to the Netherlands, who was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) in The Hague in 1979. Others suspected of the assassination were Palestinians or Iraqis, although no evidence was ever put forward. It was ultimately confirmed that the PIRA had carried out the killings.[1] Sykes' valet Karel Straub was also killed. Both men were shot in the head as they left the ambassador's residence for the short trip to the embassy.[1]

Sykes' position as ambassador to the Netherlands had been strained due to certain Dutch groups which were sympathetic to the IRA, and consequent arms smuggling activities.[2][3][4][5]

Sykes had served in Havana, Peking and Washington, and was Deputy Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office prior to his appointment to the Netherlands in 1977.[1]


Married to Ann, Lady Sykes; the couple had three children.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 BBC coverage of Sykes/Straub assassinations, accessed 30 August 2014.
  2. The Guardian coverage of Sykes/Straub assassinations,, accessed 30 August 2014.
  3. Straub profile,; accessed 6 August 2014.
  4. Assassination details,; accessed 6 August 2014.
  5. Report on assassinations,; accessed 6 August 2014.
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Ernest John Ward Barnes
UK Ambassador to the Netherland
Succeeded by
Sir John Taylor