MoD comms chief departs after five-year tour of duty

Carl Newns has left his job as director of comms at the Ministry of Defence after five years in post, PRWeek has learned.

Carl Newns has left his job as the MoD's comms chief (Image via @carlnewns on Instagram)
Carl Newns has left his job as the MoD's comms chief (Image via @carlnewns on Instagram)

Having departed from his MoD role, Carl Newns has taken up a new job in the Cabinet Office as a director in the cross-government National Resilience Communications Hub and will focus on COVID-19, as well as winter planning.

The MoD is now recruiting for the £120,000-per-year post and the department’s comms will be managed by four senior staff – including Matt Jackson, head of external comms and Sean Reilly, head of internal comms – until Newns’ successor is appointed in the new year.

Career path

Newns, who appeared in this year's PRWeek Power Book list of the most senior public sector comms people in the UK, has had a 30-year career working in government.

He spent two decades at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, starting out as a desk officer for its Latin America department.

Newns also held the roles of head of news and later deputy director of comms strategy, before taking up the role of director of comms at the MoD.

Job description

In its application form, the MoD said it is seeking an “exceptional” person to lead the department’s comms team, set strategy and advise ministers on all aspects of communications.

According to the ministry, the person appointed will have responsibility for an annual budget of about £34m to “deliver high-quality communications”, and 100 staff, both civilian and military.

The MoD said: “The successful candidate will be an inspiring and empowering leader with first-rate stakeholder management experience.”

The new comms chief will also oversee a likely reduction in the department’s overall staff headcount.

This is part of a wide-ranging review of government comms personnel which will see the numbers across 20 departments reduced from 4,500 to hundreds by April 2023.

The MoD said the new comms director will lead on “reform programmes, delivering a programme of positive change while ensuring staff are engaged and informed during a period of uncertainty”.

The ‘Reshaping GCS’ programme will “integrate Defence communication more closely into the cross-government communication function,” it said.

Newns declined to comment on his departure from the MoD.

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