Exclusive: Courts comms chief announces departure to education charity

Ed Owen, director of comms at HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), will leave his job at the end of July to take up a new role as director of external affairs at Ark, an education charity.

Ed Owen is leaving his role as HMCTS comms chief at the end of July
Ed Owen is leaving his role as HMCTS comms chief at the end of July

Owen will join Ark, which manages a network of nearly 40 non-selective primary and secondary schools, in August to lead the charity’s comms and development work.

The role combines media, stakeholder relations and internal comms, as well as fundraising and development responsibilities.

Owen’s focus will be on improving the way the Ark tells its story to a wide range of people, including parents, policymakers and supporters.

He will join the senior management teams of Ark and Ark Schools and report to the charity’s chief executive, Lucy Heller.


Owen joins the charity from HMCTS, an executive agency sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales.

He was the agency’s comms director for three years, overseeing his team’s work to support the modernisation of the justice system, as well as its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Owen is also chair of the HMCTS Media Working Group, which acts to promote court reporting and improve the media’s access to the justice system.

The comms chief began his career as a journalist and worked for the Messenger Group in Stockport in the 1990s.

He was a special adviser to Jack Straw while Labour was in opposition, and then after the party came to power 1997. He was Straw's adviser as Home Secretary and and continued in the role when the politician became Foreign Secretary in 2001.

After leaving government, Owen ran two comms agencies – Apex Communications and Maitland Political – between 2006 and 2012. He later became chief executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust before joining HMCTS, and is a London Air Ambulance trustee.

New challenge

Owen told PRWeek: “I am delighted to be joining Ark in support of its inspiring work to transform the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country. Its commitment to excellence and innovation sets it apart and I am looking forward to helping develop its impact and reputation at this important time.”

Commenting on the charity’s comms priorities, he added: “This work has become even more important as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis, and the challenges to develop new and safe ways to ensure children from all backgrounds get the education and support they need.”

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