Michael Jay was born in Hampshire in June 1946 and educated at Winchester College, Magdalen College Oxford, and London University's School of Oriental and African Studies.
After voluntary service as a teacher in Zambia, he joined the Ministry of Overseas Development in 1969, serving in London, Washington (at the World Bank) and in the British High Commission in New Delhi. In 1981 he joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He served in the European Secretariat of the Cabinet Office from 1985-87, as Counsellor in the Paris Embassy from 1987-90, and in the Foreign Office as Director for European Affairs, then Director General for European and Economic Affairs from 1990-96. From July 1996 to September 2001 he was British Ambassador in Paris. In July 2001 he was appointed Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service, a post he took up on 14 January 2002.
Michael Jay married Sylvia Mylroie in 1975. She has been Director General of the Food and Drink Federation since January 2001.
Find out more about the history and responsibilities of the Permanent Under-Secretary's role in the Historical Paper History of the PUS