Ex-GCHQ strategy lead appointed to head UK Civil Service

By Harry Lye

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed Simon Case, former director of strategy at the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), as cabinet secretary and head of the UK’s Civil Service.

Case takes the reins from the outgoing cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, who held the joint role of national security adviser, now filled by David Frost.

Both Case and Frost are both veterans of the now-defunct Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), where Case served as director-general for the UK–EU Partnership. In 2018, Case was appointed director general Northern Ireland and Ireland, where he was tasked with drawing up solutions to the post-Brexit Irish Border.

Commenting on Case appointment, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Simon will make a fantastic Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service. His years of experience at the heart of government and working for The Royal Household make him ideally suited for this crucial role.

“I would also like to thank Mark Sedwill for his outstanding service to the Government and the country as a whole. After serving for decades with great distinction, I believe he has earned the gratitude of the nation.”

Sedwill announced his resignation in June, this year, having served in the role since October 2018. Sedwill reportedly resigned over tensions between himself and the Prime Ministers team.

During his time in the Civil Service, Case also worked as principal private secretary to the prime minister for both David Cameron and Theresa May.

The Times reported that Case was asked to make a formal application by Downing Street. Case has worked as Downing Street permanent secretary since May this year where he helped oversee the government’s response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Case said: “It is an honour to be appointed as Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service. Over these few months of working on the Covid response, I have seen how much hard work is being done by the Civil Service to support the government and our country through unprecedented times. It is a privilege to come into this role to lead a Service that is working day in, day out to deliver for people right across the country.

“I’m grateful to Mark for the kindness and support he has given me in my career and I wish him well for his next chapter.”

Case will take over the role as the head of the UK’s Civil Service on 9 September. As Cabinet Secretary, Case will oversee the UK’s 400,000 civil servants across the government and the devolved administrations.


Read more: Worst UK recession in recorded history sparks calls for digital recovery