Palace overlooks private sector for top PR appointee

Buckingham Palace is understood to be looking internally to fill its top PR role for the first time since the post's creation four years ago.

This is set to bring to an end a policy started in 1998 of hiring private sector secondees to the role of Palace comms secretary.

A final decision will be taken later in the year but it is understood that press secretary Penny Russell-Smith is the front runner to fill the post, taking a newly created title of communications director.

A Palace insider said it was felt that it was not necessary to turn to business as following recent appointments there was already significant private sector experience in the in-house team. This included hiring former National Grid head of external relations Samantha Cohen as an assistant press secretary last year.

The current comms secretary Simon Walker's two-year secondment from British Airways came to an end last month but he is staying in post until December while the PR function is restructured.

Walker replaced Simon Lewis, the first comms secretary, who joined on a secondment from Centrica where he has since returned. It is not yet known whether Walker will be returning to British Airways.

Leader, p8.

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