He was educated at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and entered the Diplomatic Service in 1968. His early postings included the United Nations, Addis Ababa and Paris. On his return to London in 1974, he worked in the Foreign Office News Department and was later seconded to the press office of James Callaghan, who was then Prime Minister. He subsequently served as Assistant Private Secretary to David Owen, the Foreign Secretary.
Wall spent four years at the British Embassy in Washington from 1979 to 1983, when he returned to the Foreign Office. He was Private Secretary to successive Foreign Secretaries from 1988 to 1991 and Private Secretary to the Prime Minister from 1991 to 1993.
Wall was sent as Ambassador to Portugal in 1993, and he remained there until 1995, when he was named as Britain's Permanent Representative to the European Union. He returned to London in 2000 to take charge of the Cabinet Office's European Secretariat. He remained in that post until 2004, and during that period he was EU adviser to Tony Blair.
He was principal adviser to Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster from June 2004 to June 2005. He has since been very critical of the Church's leadership, saying that the “fundamentalist” character of today's Vatican is out of step with the secularism and social liberalism of modern Britain (indeed of many British Catholics).
Sir Stephen Wall is chairman of Cumberland Lodge, an educational charity initiating fresh debate on the burning questions facing society.
University College London
In 2005 Sir Stephen joined the UCL Council, the governing body of UCL (University College London) The Council's job is to set the university's strategic direction. In 2008 he was appointed Chair of the Council and served until 2014.
Sir Stephen was also the College's LGBT Champion. He has said:
- "Some gay and lesbian staff members are wary about being open about their sexuality. Not all Departments are comfortable places to be gay. ... UCL should be a place where all of us, whatever our identity or orientation, feel equally valued, respected and able to be open about who we are."
For most of Sir Stephen's 35 years at the Foreign Office, being openly gay was a sackable offence. He has described how he denied his sexuality to himself for 20 years. It then took him another 20 years to do something about what he called the “cork in the bottle”. He finally came out to his family in 2009 and later came out publicly.
- A Stranger in Europe: Britain and the EU from Thatcher to Blair (2008)
- The Official History of Britain and the European Community, 1963-1975 (2012)
Partly based on the Wikipedia article of the same name.
- http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/conferences/treatyofrome/stephenwall.aspx "Sir Stephen Wall, GCMG LVO" University of Edinburgh School of Law
- http://www.newstatesman.com/200510170041 "Uncivil servants. Former special adviser Stephen Wall describes life inside the No 10 media machine" New Statesman 17 October 2005
- http://www.bnegroup.org/about/people/sir-stephen-wall/ "Sir Stephen Wall" Business for New Europe
- http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2007/11/spinning-against-vatican.html "Spinning against the Vatican" The hermeneutic of continuity 1 December 2007
- http://www.economist.com/node/17039111 "Mary Who?" The Economist 16 September 2010
- http://www.cumberlandlodge.ac.uk/aboutus/trustees_of_cumberland_lodge Cumberland Lodge: Trustees
- http://www.ucl.ac.uk/media/library/StephenWall "Sir Stephen Wall announced as next Chair of UCL Council"
- http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/equalities/corporate/champions.php UCL's Equality Champions
- http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/events/2012/05/21/have-we-won-the-fight-against-homophobia/ "Have we won the fight against homophobia?" UCL IDAHO event, 2012.
- http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/apr/26/politics2 "'Are Eu ready?' No, we're not" Denis MacShane, The Guardian26 April 2008