Former MoJ perm sec Heaton got £260k exit payment

Richard Heaton's exit payment deal is revealed in department's annual accounts
Richard Heaton speaking at the 2019 Civil Service Awards

By Tevye Markson

20 Dec 2021

Former Ministry of Justice permanent secretary Sir Richard Heaton received a £262,185 payout when he left the role last year, the department’s annual accounts have revealed.

The MoJ’s annual report and accounts for 2020-21 said the fee was compensation for “loss of office” and that he left on voluntary exit terms on 28 August, 2020.

The compensation means Heaton earned more than £370,000 in 2020-21, having left five months into the financial year, compared to £210-215,000 in 2019-20.

Heaton stood down from the MoJ top job in August 2020 after five years in the role.

Mike Driver initially took over as interim perm sec before then-Department for International Trade chief Antonia Romeo on the role in January.

Heaton’s departure was one of several last year. Former Department for Education perm sec Jonathan Slater received a £278,000 severance payment after benig pushed out last year, while a former cabinet secretary Lord Mark Sedwill agreed a £248,000 exit package.

This year, the Home Office reached a £340,000 settlement with its former perm sec Sir Philip Rutnam, plus £36,000 in legal fees, avoiding the need for an employment tribunal hearing to take place.

'Privilege to lead': 30 years as a civil servant

Heaton's departure brought his nearly 30-year career as a civil servant, including eight years as a permanent secretary, to an end. As Cabinet Office perm sec from 2012 to 2015, Heaton was also first parliamentary counsel.

Heaton's previous roles include director of legal services at the MoJ’s predecessor ministry, the Department for Constitutional Affairs; head of law and governance at the Department for Work and Pensions; and DWP’s director general for pensions and ageing society.

As head of the MoJ, Heaton oversaw work to improve prison safety and security, including the ministry’s takeover of HMP Birmingham from the contractor G4S in 2018; efforts to modernise courts and tribunals; and the ongoing work to renationalise probation management.

When his departure was announced, Heaton said it had been a “privilege to lead” the MoJ.

He said he was proud of delivering on the priorities of successive governments and securing investment for the justice system.

"But what I am most proud of is the way in which people from every part of the department and its partner organisations work together to get things done," he said.

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