Antonia Romeo named MoJ permanent secretary

DIT perm sec moves back to department where she spent 'majority of her career'
Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Antonia Romeo will become permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice this month, it has been announced.

Romeo, who has been perm sec at the Department for International Trade since 2017, will take up her new role on 18 January.

The former MoJ director general of transformation said she was "thrilled" to return to the department where she has spent most of her career.

 John Alty, director general, trade policy at DIT will become the department's interim perm sec when Romeo vacates the role.

Romeo joined the civil service in 2000 as an economist, having previously worked for the consultancy firm Oliver Wyman.

Her time at the MoJ, which saw her tasked with delivering the part-privatisation of probation under the controversial Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, also included a stint as director general of criminal justice.

In 2015 she became special envoy to US technology companies, and then later that year, director general of the economic and domestic secretariat in the Cabinet Office.

In 2016, she was appointed HM consul general in New York, a role that included responsibilities under DIT's predecessor department UK Trade and Investment, before DIT perm sec in March 2017.

Romeo also serves as civil service gender champion.

Justice secretary Robert Buckland said: “I am delighted to welcome Antonia back to the Ministry of Justice. I know that she shares my passion for renewing the Justice system, protecting the public and reforming offenders, and I look forward to working with her as we build back safer from the pandemic."

He also thanked Mike Driver, the former head of the government finance function who has been interim permanent secretary at the MoJ since Sir Richard Heaton left the post.

Heaton left the MoJ at the end of his five-year term as perm sec last summer, ending a 30-year career in the civil service.

Cabinet secretary Simon Case added that Driver had provided "strong leadership to the department over the last few months".

“Antonia’s appointment is great news for the Ministry of Justice. As an experienced permanent secretary, she brings with her a wealth of experience garnered in a variety of roles across government, as well as a deep understanding of the Ministry of Justice," Case said.

Romeo said she would be returning to the department where she had spent the majority of her career, "working on its vital agenda of protecting the public and reducing reoffending, ensuring access to justice, and upholding the rule of law".

“I know first-hand the incredible job that the 75,000 MoJ staff do every day, and I’m looking forward to working with the lord chancellor, ministers and the team on this important work," she said.

“At the same time, it is hard to leave DIT after four brilliant years building the department and launching the UK’s independent trade agenda – thanks to all ministers and colleagues.”

A recruitment process will be held to find Romeo's successor as DIT permanent secretary.

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