ODPM reshuffle sees Plews take top PR role

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has hired its first director of communications since its creation in May following a Government reorganisation.

Ministry of Defence director of news Derek Plews is set to take up the top PR post at the department on 30 September.

ODPM - created from the old Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions - confirmed Plews would report into the department's permanent secretary Mavis McDonald.

Plews, who leaves the MoD after a year in the post, previously worked for the deputy Prime Minister as his deputy director of communications and later press secretary at the then Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

According to a report in The Sunday Telegraph, Plews' departure stemmed from an order from Downing Street director of communications and strategy Alastair Campbell to 'radically shake-up' the MoD's PR division.

An MoD spokesman said the department was recruiting to replace Plews, but denied his departure followed criticism over the MoD's media operation in Afghanistan.

Campbell is reported to have demanded that news management be overseen by civil service professionals rather than military officers.

But Downing Street this week denied the allegations. A spokesman said: 'It's rubbish. We believe the MoD did an excellent job during Afghanistan.

'We routinely speak to other governmental departments, but the claim that Downing Street has ordered some sort of radical shake-up following criticism of the media operation in Afghanistan is not true.'

The MoD also this week denied reports of a re-organisation in the department, adding it is yet to review its performance leading the Afghanistan media operation.

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