DfID chief Matthew Rycroft named Home Office perm sec

Former ambassador to the UN to succeed Philip Rutnam, who quit in bullying row

Matthew Rycroft as British UN ambassador. Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/Zuma Press/PA Images

Matthew Rycroft, permanent secretary at the Department for International Development, has been appointed the head of the Home Office.

Rycroft replaces Sir Philip Rutnam, who resigned as Home Office perm sec at the end of last month in a row over alleged bullying by home secretary Priti Patel.

Before moving to DfID in January 2018, Rycroft spent nearly three years as British ambassador to the United Nations. Prior to that, he was chief operating officer at the Foreign Office, overseeing the running of the FCO and its network of 270 international posts.


His previous roles include a stint as UK ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and private secretary to the prime minister on foreign affairs.

Announcing the appointment, Patel said Rycroft “brings a wealth of leadership experience and a strong understanding of the security challenges we face”.

“I very much look forward look to working alongside Matthew as we deliver the people’s priorities,” she said.

Upcoming tasks for the Home Office include implementing the government’s post-Brexit immigration system, recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers and, over the longer term, scrapping physical immigration documents.

Patel also thanked Shona Dunn, second permanent secretary at the Home Office, for her “professionalism and service” standing in as interim perm sec since Rutnam’s resignation. Dunn will stay on as second perm sec, Patel said.

The appointment comes as a Cabinet Office investigation, led by cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, is underway into allegations about Patel’s conduct.

The prime minister ordered the investigation after Rutnam quit saying the home secretary had “created fear” in the department. Rutnam said he had received reports of Patel shouting at and belittling staff and that his attempts to convince her to change her behaviour had “created tension” between the two.

Rutnam, who also said he had been the victim of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign”, is taking action against the government for constructive dismissal.

Further reports of alleged bullying incidents have arisen in the weeks since Rutnam stepped down. In one instance, it emerged that the Department for Work and Pensions had awarded a five-figure payout to a former official who said she was bullied by Patel, then an employment minister.

The home secretary has rejected "all allegations" made against her.

Sedwill said Rycroft was an “exceptional public servant who embodies the very best that the civil service has to offer".

He added: “With extensive experience in the diplomatic service and a strong record of delivering [the government’s] priorities, he will provide inspirational leadership to the Home Office at an important time,” he said.

DfID will announce its plans to replace Rycroft “in due course”, the Cabinet Office said. In the meantime, the department’s director general for economic development and international, Nick Dyer, will be acting perm sec. This is the second time Dyer has taken on the role of acting perm sec, having previously done so in 2017 following Mark Lowcock's depature.

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