Foreign and Commonwealth Office axes director post amid cutbacks

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has ditched its comms director position as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures.

Andrew Whyte: left earlier this month
Andrew Whyte: left earlier this month

Andrew Whyte left earlier this month, moving back to his previous department, Defra, where he has taken on the role of director of new ways of working. The shift comes as part of a number of comms cuts that have resulted in savings of more than £3m.

Head of news Carl Newns has been handed a new position of head of press and digital. He is leading the directorate alongside head of comms and engagement Anna Clunes.

The size of the central comms team has been reduced from more than 100 to under 70, with much of the FCO’s strategic comms delivery being farmed out to its policy directorates.

The central department will now focus on media relations, digital comms, internal comms, professional development and relations alongside the FCO’s comms arms-length bodies, such as the BBC World Service and British Council.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office told PRWeek: ‘Like all government departments, we have had to review the size and structure of our comms function. We have taken a very clear decision that we will have a central planning department but not central delivery of strategic comms activity.’

Whyte’s move back to Defra came after the FCO’s comms department became too small to be overseen by someone at the director of comms level.

The changes follow 18 months of planning.

Whyte was appointed at the FCO in September 2010, from Defra, where he was director of comms. He replaced former editor of The Independent Ian Hargreaves.

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