A top intelligence official, William Ehrman, has been named the new chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
He is currently director general for defence and intelligence at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and had been acting as the committee's deputy chairman since October 2002.
Mr Ehrman will also be head of the intelligence and security secretariat until a permanent appointment can be made.
Educated at Eton and Cambridge, Mr Ehrman is a China expert and a Mandarin speaker who is held in high esteem by the intelligence community.
He joined the Diplomatic Service in 1973, and has had postings in Beijing, New York, Hong Kong and was HM Ambassador to Luxembourg.
Sometimes known as "two brains Bill", Mr Ehrman is also credited with playing a key role in ensuring Libya abandoned its weapons of mass destruction.
But he was also involved in handling the media reaction which followed the death of Iraq arms expert Dr David Kelly.
He will hold the post for one year only as he is due to become Britain's ambassador to China in 2005.
He is seen as someone with experience in dealing with senior politicians and who is "demonstrably beyond influence".
This is in line with the recommendations of the Butler report into pre-war intelligence.
Mr Ehrman is married with three daughters and one son.