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New chief executive for SWA

Betts leaves FCO to take on whisky mantle

Karen BettsThe Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has appointed another former ambassador as chief executive.

Karen Betts joins the SWA after a 16 year career in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), most recently as British Ambassador to Morocco.

She succeeds David Frost, a former ambassador in Denmark, who left in November to join Boris Johnson’t team at the Foreign Office.

Ms Betts becomes only the eighth head, and the first female chief executive, of the SWA in its 105 year history.  Julie Hesketh-Laird has been running the organisation in an interim capacity since Mr Frost’s departure.

During a successful diplomatic career at the FCO, Ms Betts held a variety of posts in London and overseas.  

These included Counsellor to the British Embassy in Washington, and roles at the UK’s Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels and the British Embassy in Baghdad.

She has also served in the Cabinet Office and the Joint Intelligence Committee.  Prior to joining the FCO, she worked as a lawyer for Clifford Chance in London and Hong Kong.  She studied law at the College of Law in Guildford and history at St. Andrews University. 

She said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed as CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association to represent one of Scotland’s most important industries, at home and overseas. 

“It’s an exciting and challenging time for the Scotch Whisky industry, and I am looking forward immensely to helping ensure its success into the future.  I am also delighted to be moving back to Edinburgh with my family.” 

SWA chairman, Pierre Pringuet, said: “We are delighted that Karen will be joining us and bringing fresh leadership to a talented SWA team as it continues to represent its members’ interests effectively around the world. 

“Her wide international experience will be particularly valuable as we work with government to grow the Scotch Whisky industry globally and make a success of the UK’s exit from the EU.” 

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