Going, going, gong: Five minutes with King's birthday honours recipient Freya Grimwood

Freya Grimwood, now a deputy director at the Serious Fraud Office, recently received an OBE for Public Service for her work as principal private secretary for the law officers in the Attorney General's Office. CSW meets her

Serious Fraud Office. Photo: Robert Evans/Alamy

By Civil Service World

16 Aug 2023

What does being recognised in the Birthday Honours List mean to you?  

I never imagined my contribution would be recognised in this way, and I’m very honoured to have been nominated. My family and friends were thrilled. However, the private office is a joint effort, and I want everyone in my team and other colleagues from the Attorney General's Office to know I wouldn’t have received this recognition without them.   

Headshot of Freya Grimwood

What did your role at AGO involve? 

I led a joint private office for the attorney general and solicitor general, which was an absolutely fascinating job. Thanks to the unique role the law officers play, I had an overview of policy development across government, insight into sensitive national security matters, and a privileged view into the most complex legal challenges that Whitehall departments were facing.

The law officers have statutory responsibilities around reviewing criminal casework, and they oversee prosecuting departments, the Government Legal Department, and the CPS Inspectorate. As with any PPS job, my role was to interface between ministers and the department to balance their different responsibilities and make sure everything ran smoothly.  

What does it take to be a good PPS? 

Patience, creativity, a great team, and a strong support network that will forgive you for all the times you end up working late or cancelling plans at the last minute.  

And what does your role involve now? 

As deputy director heading the strategy department at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), I'm focused on ensuring this unique organisation – which brings together investigators and prosecutors to fight complex economic crime – continues to deliver on its crucial mission. My department plays a pivotal role, as it integrates strategy, policy and communication. 

Apart from receiving this honour, what has been your proudest moment at work? 

Throughout my civil service career, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked on high-profile issues, from negotiating UN resolutions in the Middle East and operating in conflict zones like Somalia to trying to improve outcomes for victims of crime here in the UK. But my proudest moments have always been when I’ve managed to help others succeed, either overcoming a problem, gaining a well-deserved promotion, or simply building confidence.  

Tell us one thing we might not know about your new job... 

The SFO was set up in the 1980s with a forward-thinking formula which brings together different professionals to tackle the highest levels of economic crime, which is now transnational and increasingly digital. It feels completely different from any other civil service organisation I’ve worked in. I’m excited to be part of its mission to fight complex fraud and bribery here and overseas. 

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