Susanna McGibbon has been named as the new permanent secretary of the Government Legal Department, Treasury solicitor and HM procurator general – filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Sir Jonathan Jones last year.
Jones quit as the government’s top lawyer in protest at ministers’ decision to insert clauses into the Internal Market Bill that would allow the government to back out of parts of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, breaching international law in the process.
Adverts for Jones’ successor offered a pay package worth up to £180,000 a year when recruitment began in October.
McGibbon is currently one of two directors general at the GLD and is also director general of the legal group at the Department for Work and Pensions. Peter Fish has led GLD since November on an interim basis.
Cabinet secretary Simon Case appointed McGibbon to her new role with the approval of prime minister Boris Johnson.
“Susanna’s appointment is excellent news for the Government Legal Department,” he said.
“She has exceptional legal skills and a strong track record in advising on complex legal matters.
“Susanna is an inspirational leader in the civil service, and I’m confident she will take this forward in her new role to become an outstanding Treasury solicitor.”
Attorney general Suella Braverman said McGibbon was not only one of the government’s best lawyers but also one of its best leaders.
“This was evident in the role she played in co-ordinating the government’s legal response to the pandemic,” Braverman said. “I know that Susanna will be an excellent leader of the Government Legal Department and I look forward to working with her.”
McGibbon, who is due to take up her new role from 8 March, said she was “deeply honoured” to be the next Treasury solicitor and privileged to have the opportunity to lead the GLD at what she described as “an important time” for the nation.
“I want to pay tribute to colleagues across the department for their incredible work supporting the full range of government priorities in these challenging circumstances,” she said.
“I want to thank Peter Fish and Jonathan Jones for their immeasurable contribution to the government legal profession and wish them well for the future.”
Before her current role, McGibbon was the GLD’s director of litigation and responsible for conducting domestic litigation on behalf of most government departments. She has also served as legal director at the Department for Communities and Local Government – rebranded as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in 2018, the Department for Trade and Industry and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.