Under-fire Home Office reshuffles comms team

The Home Office, which continues to attract negative headlines following some high-profile blunders, has rejigged its comms team.

Head of news Simon Wren has taken the new post of deputy director of comms. He has been replaced on an interim basis by former deputy head of news Michael Winders, in a media team that is now around 50-strong.

The reshuffle comes as the department awaits the arrival of a director of comms, a post made vacant by Julia Simpson’s exit last autumn (PRWeek, 13 October 2006).  The vacancy will not be filled for another two months, according to the Home Office.

Simpson left the department to become head of strategy at the Prime Minister’s Strategic Comms Unit.

Since October, head of marketing and strategic comms Anne Nash has been acting in the role.

On the reshuffle, Wren said: ‘It’s possible that the changes will become permanent but at the moment it is too early to say.’

He joined the Home Office almost a year ago from the Ministry of Defence, where he was head of news (PRWeek, 13 Jan­uary 2006).

A senior civil servant was suspended earlier this week in connection with the department’s failure to update the criminal records of Britons who have offended abroad.

The revelations followed reports earlier this month that high-risk offenders are living free on bail and in probation hostels in England and Wales, and that many prisoners have absconded from open jails.

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