FRONT PAGE: Cabinet Office seeks chief as Howell James quits

Top Whitehall PROs were this week polishing their CVs and preparing to fight it out to be the next permanent secretary for government communications.

James: set to join Barclays
James: set to join Barclays

The biggest public sector PR job has become available following the news Howell James is quitting after four years. As revealed on (10 June), James has been appointed corporate affairs director at Barclays.

RELATED STORY: Howell James joins Barclays

Whitehall insiders said there would be no shortage of potential applicants to ­replace James at the Cabinet Office. Three frontrunners are thought to be Department of Health director general of comms Sian Jarvis, HM Revenue & Customs ­director of comms Simon MacDowall and Foreign and Commonwealth Office comms director Lucian Hudson.

James, formerly prime minister John Major's political secretary, surprised many by announcing his resignation from the Cabinet Office this week.

Hudson said: ‘Howell got comms people represented at the top table in government and helped bring in a new generation of comms directors.'

James started the role in 2004, having previously worked at both Cable & Wireless and the BBC.
Although he does not start at Barclays until September, James will leave government this Friday as he is subject to ‘business appointment rules'.

At Barclays, James repla­ces Stephen Whitehead, who left in December to join Prudential as group comms director.

-- Meanwhile, Audit Commission comms chief Jenny Grey joins the Cabinet Off­ice as comms director in July.

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