Richard Heaton is set to replace Ursula Brennan as the Ministry of Justice permanent secretary when Brennan leaves Whitehall at the end of this month, it has been announced.
Brennan – who has been at the MoJ since July 2012 – will continue in her role until the summer recess on July 22, but the handover process will begin shortly. Meanwhile, civil service chief executive John Manzoni will take on Heaton’s current job of permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office said Manzoni would be taking on the role in addition to his current chief exec job.
Paying tribute to Brennan’s commitment to the civil service, cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood thanked the outgoing permanent secretary for her "tremendous contribution across a wide range of departments and agencies".
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"She is widely admired as a role model throughout the civil service and has worked tirelessly to promote and inspire a generation of leaders," Heywood added. "She has been a greatly valued permanent secretary colleague and I wish her all the best for the future.”
Brennan, who informed Heywood of her intention to retire earlier this year, said of her time in Whitehall: "In four decades in the civil service, I have had the great privilege of working in support of critical public services. From health and social security to rural development, and from defence to justice, I have been lucky to work with colleagues with strong public service values and a commitment to continuous improvement."
Heaton said he was looking forward to working on topics "close to my heart".
"I am very pleased to be moving to the Ministry of Justice. The subjects addressed by the department - law, justice, prison reform, rehabilitation - are where I have spent much of my working life and they are close to my heart," he said.
The Cabinet secretary said that Heaton’s recent experience – he has served as Cabinet Office permanent secretary and first parliamentary counsel since 2012 – meant he was "uniquely placed to steer the Ministry of Justice successfully through the changes of this parliament".
"Richard is an inspirational leader who brings a combination of experience in leading organisational change from his role in the Cabinet Office and legal expertise from his time as first parliamentary counsel and his previous legal roles, both inside and outside the civil service,” the Cabinet secretary added.
A civil service-wide competition will be launched shortly to replace Heaton as the first parliamentary counsel, the Cabinet Office said.
The appointment of Heaton comes on the day that Heywood also announced that Bronwyn Hill is to step down as permanent secretary at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Hill will be succeeded in the summer by Clare Moriarty, the current director general at the Department for Transport's (DfT) Rail Executive.