Government names new comms supremo at DIUS

The newly formed Department of Innovations, Universities and Skills (DIUS), headed by secretary of state John Denham, has appointed its first chief PRO.

Denham: secretary of state heads DIUS
Denham: secretary of state heads DIUS

Zina Etheridge moves across from the Cabinet Office, where she was head of reform strategy. She will set about building a fresh PR team at the department, which has a remit to promote educational and learning opportunities.

Etheridge joins the department as director of comms and strategy after three years at the Cabinet Office, reporting into the department’s permanent secretary Ian Whatmore.

She said: ‘I came to the department because I wanted a new challenge. Bringing together innovation, universities and skills gives lots of ­opportunities to support the UK going forward and strengthens its position in the global economy.’

The new department has taken on many of the responsibilities of the now defunct Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Trade and Industry. It has been created to help build a skilled, globally competitive workforce.

Separately, Denham is also understood to have appointed Josie Cluer as a special advisor with a focus on comms work, although DIUS would not confirm the appointment. Cluer previously ran the Real Work project for The Howard League for Penal Reform. She also supported Denham when he was chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

DIUS is one of three new departments created by Gordon Brown – the other two being the Department for Schools, Children and Family (DSCF) and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

The former director of comms for the DfES, Caroline Wright, has taken the helm at the DSCF, with BERR currently recruiting a director of comms, press ­officers and marketing staff. Former DTI director of ­comms Matthew Hilton is understood to have moved elsewhere within BERR.

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