Attorney General’s Office names deputy head

"Inspiring and highly respected civil servant" started his career in New Zealand

Kelby Harmes has been named a director and deputy head of the Attorney General’s Office.

AGO director general Doug Wilson confirmed today that Harmes, who has been holding the position on an interim basis since last October, will stay on permanently.

At the AGO, where he has worked since November 2018, Harmes has advised the law officers on several "high-profile matters" related to constitutional, criminal and public law issues, the department said in a statement. Before that he spent three yeasrs as one of the Cabinet Office legal advisers.

Harmes's career began as a barrister and solicitor in New Zealand in 1998, moving to the UK and joining the then-Department for Constitutional Affairs – the predecessor to the Ministry of Justice – in 2003.

AGO director and deputy head Kelby HarmesHe later worked as private secretary to the Lord Chief Justice, before moving to the culture department to advise on the London Olympics and Paralympics. He spent a three-year stint at New Zealand's Ministry of Justice before returning to the UK civil service in 2015.

Wilson, the former GCHQ director who was named the AGO's director general in May, said Harmes is an "inspiring and highly respected civil servant".

"I look forward to working with him as we support the law officers and wider government to deliver on its priorities and make law and politics work together at the heart of the constitution," he said.

Harmes commented: ‘The AGO is a small and high-performing team at the heart of government with a well-deserved reputation for excellence and for prioritising the well-being of everyone that works here.

"I look forward to working with the law officers, Doug and the many talented public servants in AGO and across Whitehall."

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