Boris Johnson’s former chief of staff joins FCO board

Foreign secretary’s mayoral fixer becomes non-executive director at King Charles Street

By Jim Dunton

10 Apr 2017

Sir Edward Lister Credit: DCLG

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s former chief of staff from his Mayor of London days has been named as one of two new non-executive directors at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Sir Edward Lister, who was Johnson's right-hand man at City Hall until May last year, is now tasked with providing independent challenge to his former boss and the department as part of the FCO’s supervisory board, which the foreign secretary chairs.

Lister, who spent five years as London’s deputy mayor for policy and planning under Johnson, is now also chair of the Homes and Communities Agency.

His appointment was announced alongside that of former Jupiter Telecommunications executive Miranda Curtis, who is now a board member at the Institute for Government and Marks & Spencer. 

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The FCO said Lister’s expertise was in large-scale urban regeneration schemes and coordinating major public- and private-sector partnerships, while Curtis’s was in building multinational leadership teams, negotiation and oversight of international joint ventures, and cross-border deal making.

FCO permanent undersecretary Sir Simon McDonald said both Lister and Curtis knew “how to manage large projects in both the commercial and public sectors” and would give the department “invaluable support”.

Non-executive director appointments are made by a panel that includes the body’s lead “NED”, and signed off by the secretary of state.

IfG director Daniel Thornton said he was unable to comment on individual appointments but said the qualifications required of appointees were clear. 

“The two things NEDs need is expertise and independence, so they can offer challenge to the secretary of state and the department,” he said.

Last year Liam Fox’s fledgling Department for International Trade drew fire for appointing Pippa Malmgren as a NED. 

The founder of business consultancy DRPM and former adviser to US President George W Bush had publicly described Fox as a “powerful player” following the EU referendum vote, and her words were interpreted by some as supporting his short-lived bid for the Conservative Party leadership.

In February this year, the HCA appointed another of Boris Johnson’s former deputy mayors – former housing, land and property deputy Richard Blakeway to its board.

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