Michael Butler was born 27 February 1927, the son of T. D. Butler, of Almer, Blandford [Dorset], and Beryl May (née Lambert); he was educated at Winchester and Trinity College, Oxford. In 1951 he married Ann, daughter of the Right Honourable Lord Clyde.
Butler joined the Foreign Service in 1950, and during his career, served in: British Mission to the United Nations, New York [United States], 1952-56; Baghdad [Iraq], 1956-58; Foreign Office, 1958-61 and 1965-68; Paris [France], 1961-65; Counsellor, UK Mission in Geneva [Switzerland], 196870; Fellow, Center for Internat. Affairs, Harvard, 197071; Counsellor, Washington, 1971-72; Head of European Integration Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1972-74; Assistant Under-Secretary in charge of European Community Affairs, FCO, 1974-76; Deputy Under-Secretary of State, FCO, 1976-79; Ambassador and Permanent UK Representative to EC, Brussels [Belgium], 1979-85. Adviser, Government of Ukraine, 1991-94.
He was awarded the GCMG in 1984 (KCMG 1980; CMG 1975).