Yasmin Diamond has clinched the job coordinating the presentation of government policy on the politically sensitive issues of terrorism, security and immigration.
She takes the post vacated by Julia Simpson, who was appointed head of strategy at Number 10 last year and is set to join BA in August (PRWeek, 20 April).
Acting in the director of comms role since Simpson’s departure has been head of marketing and comms strategy Anne Nash.
Diamond will start the new role at the beginning of 2008, following maternity leave. Currently director of comms at Defra, she has advised on climate change and bird flu. She has restructured the department, strengthening its strategy areas.
She told PRWeek: ‘I have had a fantastic time at Defra, we are very high on the news agenda, but the Home Office is an incredible brief.’
In her new role, Diamond will report to the permanent secretary David Normington and handle a team of around 150 people.
She will take one of the toughest PR roles in Whitehall, advising on highly controversial topics, such as proposals to strengthen anti-terrorism legislation.
Home Office PROs face an interminable PR challenge – both from leftwing press which positions its policies as hardline, and from a skeptical tabloid press which positions its policies as too soft.
When John Reid took over the department last year he described it as ‘notfit for purpose’.
Other PR challenges include prison overcrowding and immigration failures.
Diamond effectively exits Defra when she takes maternity leave next month. Acting in her role will be Steve Morris from the Prime Minister’s Strategic Comms Unit.
The Home Office’s remit was recently reduced, with some policy areas shifted into the Ministry of Justice – formerly the Department of Constitutional Affairs.