Some weeks ago, PRWeek revealed that Downing Street permanent secretary Jeremy Heywood was trawling government departments to find a replacement for the outgoing Beth Russell (PRWeek, 27 June).
This week, a Labour Party source claimed that just three civil servants had applied for the job. A Downing Street insider appeared to back this up, saying: 'Put it this way, you could count the number of applicants on one hand.'
Downing Street failed to confirm or deny the claims. A friend of Russell said that she was frustrated by the long hours she was having to keep.