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Peter Jay

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Title: Peter Jay  
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Collection: 1937 Births, Alumni of Christ Church, Oxford, Ambassadors of the United Kingdom to the United States, Bbc Newsreaders and Journalists, Bbc People, Bbc Television Presenters, British Diplomats, British Economists, British Journalists, British Male Journalists, Civil Servants in Hm Treasury, Living People, Mayors of Places in Oxfordshire, People Educated at the Dragon School, People Educated at Winchester College, Presidents of the Oxford Union, Royal Navy Officers, The Times People, United Kingdom City Councillors
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Peter Jay

The Honourable
Peter Jay
British Ambassador to the
United States
In office
President Jimmy Carter
Prime Minister James Callaghan
Preceded by Peter Ramsbotham
Succeeded by Nicholas Henderson
Personal details
Born (1937-02-07) 7 February 1937
London, United Kingdom
Spouse(s) Margaret Jay (div. 1986)
Children 7
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

The Honourable Peter Jay (born 7 February 1937) is a British economist, broadcaster and diplomat.


  • Background 1
  • Career 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Peter Jay is the son of Douglas and Peggy Jay, both of whom were Labour Party politicians. He was educated at The Dragon School, Oxford (the alma mater of several senior Labour politicians, including Hugh Gaitskell), followed by Winchester College (where he was head boy) and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated with a first class honours degree in PPE. He was commissioned in the Royal Navy, then worked as a civil servant at HM Treasury before becoming a journalist and, for 10 years, economics editor with The Times.

In 1961 Jay married Margaret Callaghan, the daughter of Labour politician James Callaghan. In 1977, when his father-in-law had become Prime Minister, Jay was appointed to the important post of Ambassador to the United States by the Foreign Secretary, his friend David Owen. As Jay was just 40 years old, was not a diplomat and had never held any public office, the appointment caused some controversy and accusations of nepotism.


In the early 1970s, Jay was the principal presenter of the London Weekend Television Sunday news analysis programme Weekend World. In 1972, Jay co-authored, with his friend John Birt, a series of articles for The Times where they criticised standard television journalism and developed what came to be called their "mission to explain".

Jay subsequently returned to journalism in Britain but was initially most visible as leader of a consortium of high-profile media figures, including David Frost and Anna Ford, who won the licence for an idea that did not work according to its business plan: he was founding chairman of TV-am, the breakfast TV station launched by the consortium, where the initial focus on news and current affairs did not yield economic success for the company (the first to broadcast outside traditional broadcasting hours in Britain). The station was rescued after a coup that involved Jonathan Aitken and by the more down-market Roland Rat character introduced by Greg Dyke, whose success there helped him build his credibility to become Director-General of the BBC.

Peter Jay's career took a surprising turn when he became Chief of Staff to Robert Maxwell during his most high-profile and controversial years. Margaret Jay led Maxwell's Aids Foundation around the same time, where she met her present husband professor Mike Adler.

Peter Jay returned to highbrow journalism and became Economics Editor of the BBC, specially appointed by John Birt, and presented editions of The Money Programme. His appearances on screen with explanations of major economic and business issues showed his intellectual grasp but could sometimes baffle his peak-time news audience. After his retirement, this task was handled by his successors (separately for economics and business) in a rather simpler and arguably more lucid way, with more visual illustration.

Jay wrote a book, The Road to Riches or the Wealth of Man (2000, Weidenfeld & Nicolson), exploring the history of man's search for wealth, and presented a related BBC TV documentary series.

Jay is a supporter of Keynesian economics. He has debated with economists Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell.[1]

He was a non-executive director of the Bank of England from June 2003 to May 2009.[2] He has been a governor of the Ditchley Foundation since 1982. He is a councillor on Woodstock Town Council.


  1. ^ Borders, Max (2011-01-25) Who is Francis Fox Piven?, Washington Examiner
  2. ^ Peter Jay. "Peter Jay: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 

External links

  • Interview with Noam Chomsky on Anarcho-Syndicalism
  • Debate between Jay, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Peter Ramsbotham
British Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Sir Nicholas Henderson
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