A DIPLOMAT and academic who played an important part in the latter years of the Cold War has died, aged 78.

Sir Julian Bullard, who lived in North Oxford for much of his life, died last week after a long illness.

His long and impressive career culminated in his appointment as Ambassador to West Germany in the years before re-unification, but Sir Julian continued to be as active during his retirement and was thought to be in line to be the next warden of St Anthony's.

Sir Julian was born in Athens in 1928, the son of the British Consul Sir Reader Bullard, a self-made man and later director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in Oxford.

He grew up in Crick Road, Oxford, with his brothers and sister, and attended the nearby Dragon School, followed by Rugby, before returning to Oxford to take a first-class degree in Greats at Magdalen College.

A talented linguist and scholar, he won the Gatesford prize for writing Greek verse and was awarded a fellowship at All Souls.

After two years of national service, Sir Julian joined the Foreign Office and travelled all over Europe and the Arab world before he became head of the East European and Soviet department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1971.

He saw through the expulsion of 100 KGB spies from London and later, as Political Director of the FCO, he showed the same resolve in arguing for Nato's deployment of missiles to match the Soviet SS20 threat.

Retiring from the ambassadorship in Bonn in 1988, he returned to live in North Oxford, this time in Northmoor Road, from where he could walk to watch the cricket in the University Parks.

As busy as ever, he became co-director of the All Souls Foreign Policy Studies Programme, was actively involved with St Anthony's College, and was appointed Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Council of Birmingham University.

In 2000, he and his wife Margaret, a fellow Oxford graduate, published Inside Stalin's Russia, an edition of his father's diaries.

His daughter, Vicky Bullard, described him as a gentle and devoted husband, who had recently celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.

She said: "They were great entertainers, with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. He enjoyed opera, concerts and university lectures but he was also to be found in old clothes at the Trap Ground allotments.

"Sir Julian relished the manual labour of digging and the fight with slugs, mice, and bottle diggers. Sadly these activities came to an end as he became increasingly incapacitated by Parkinson's disease. Music and poetry always gave him great pleasure and he was able to quote and correct misquotations from the classics, Shakespeare or Milton, even in his last months."

Sir Julian leaves behind his wife, four children and five grandchildren. The funeral was held in St Giles Church on Wednesday. There will be a memorial service at a later date.