Ministry of Justice nabs chief technology officer from business department

Written by Rebecca Hill on 19 September 2016 in News

Tom Read, who has been at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for just seven months, will take over from Arif Harbott 

The Ministry of Justice has named the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s chief technology officer as its new chief digital and information officer.

Tom Read, who has been at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for just seven months, will take over from Arif Harbott — who has been at the MoJ for just over a year.

Read previously worked at the digital consultancy North Highland, and before that was chief technology officer at the Cabinet Office.

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Announcing his new job on Twitter, Read said he was “thrilled” about the move, adding that Harbott would be “a hard act to follow”. On his LinkedIn profile, Read says that his successes so far “have been built on a few key beliefs”. 

These are: that everything must start with the user; that “people can do amazing things and will love change if you include them in every decision”; and that things don’t need to be complicated in digital.

“Start small, iterate and use simple language to describe what you're doing,” he says.

He lists his experience as being in delivering large change programmes, which fits with the MoJ’s plans for a major digital reform of the justice system and a transformation of its own systems, including a move to the cloud.

The reforms of the justice system, announced last week, include increased use of video-link technologies for vulnerable witnesses, processing minor crimes online and plans to scrap paper by 2019.

Describing Read’s appointment as an “excellent choice”, Henry Rex, programme manager for justice and emergency services at the techUK industry group, said that the digital justice programme had “made some good steps forward over the past years, but more work needs to be done”.

He added: “The various interested departments within the MoJ must work closely with their counterparts in policing to deliver a digitally enabled end-to-end justice system which puts the user first.”

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Rebecca Hill is online editor of CSW's sister site,

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