Craig Oliver (British journalist)

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Sir Craig Oliver
Downing Street Director of Communications
In office
28 February 2011 – 13 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Andy Coulson
Succeeded by Katie Perrior
Personal details
Born Craig Stewart Oliver
(1969-05-15) 15 May 1969 (age 48)
Basford, Nottinghamshire, England
Spouse(s) Joanna Gosling (1996–2014) (separated)[1]
Relations Ian Oliver (father)
Children 3
Alma mater University of St Andrews
Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies
Occupation Journalist, media executive, spin doctor

Sir Craig Stewart Oliver (born 15 May 1969) is a British news editor, producer and media executive, and the former Director of Communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron.[2] Previously, he was Controller of English news output for BBC Global News, responsible for commissioning the news content for the corporation's English-language global services, including the BBC World Service, BBC World News and BBC News Online.

Early life[edit]

Oliver was born in Basford, Nottinghamshire.[3] His father, Ian Oliver, relocated the family to Scotland on his promotion to Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police, then later Chief Constable of Grampian Police.[4] Craig Oliver attended Stirling High School, where he was a contemporary of the presenter Kirsty Young,[4] then went on to read English literature at the University of St Andrews.[5][6]

Journalism career[edit]

After graduating with a diploma in Broadcast Journalism from the Cardiff School of Journalism,[7][6] he began his media career in 1992 as a reporter for STV.[8] One of his first assignments for the station was covering a fire in a block of flats in Glasgow's Easterhouse district.[8] In 1993 he joined ITN as a trainee reporter, after which he became a producer on ITV's News at Ten.[9] With the launch of Channel Five in 1997 he moved from News at Ten to become programme editor of Five News, but returned to ITV in 1999 as senior programme editor for ITV Evening News. He moved to Channel Four News in 2002, but once again returned to ITV News the following year when he was appointed as Head of Output. He was later promoted to Head of Network News Programming.[9]

Oliver joined the BBC in 2006, where he became editor of BBC One's Ten O'Clock News,[10] He was also editor of the channel's Six O'Clock News.[11] In May 2009, Oliver was appointed as the new deputy head of the Corporation's multimedia newsroom, replacing Mary Hockaday, who had been promoted the previous month to be the new head of the operation that oversees all BBC News output.[12] Oliver was subsequently appointed Controller of English, BBC Global News in April 2010, with responsibility for multiplatform commissioning of all BBC Global News English output.[13] He took up this role after editing the BBC's 2010 general election coverage.[11] At BBC World, he was part of the team which oversaw cuts to the Corporation's World Service.[4]

Director of Communications, Downing Street[edit]

On 2 February 2011 he was appointed Andy Coulson's replacement as Director of Communications at 10 Downing Street,[14] having been recommended by Coulson for the job.[15] He took up this position on 28 February.[16] He committed a political faux pas at the following weekend's Conservative Party Spring Conference after accidentally showing his notes for David Cameron's keynote speech to photographers.[17] In June 2011, The Mail on Sunday reported that a fake Downing Street Twitter account had been set up in Oliver's name and used to make comedic remarks about politicians and journalists. The site attracted 1,200 followers before it was exposed as a hoax.[18]

On 24 May 2012, Oliver was named in documents submitted to the Leveson Inquiry into media standards as being one of eight Downing Street advisers to have had contact with News Corporation lobbyist Frédéric Michel. Oliver and Michel dined together in July 2011 after news broke concerning the News of the World phone hacking scandal, but Oliver did not have to declare the dinner on the register of interests as they split the bill.[19]

On 28 May 2012, video footage was posted on the internet of Oliver reprimanding BBC News correspondent Norman Smith over the content of a story concerning a memo Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt sent to David Cameron about his thoughts on News Corporation's bid to take full control of BSkyB. Oliver did not appear to realise the cameras were rolling during their exchange.[20]

On 12 December 2012, it was reported that during a telephone call to The Daily Telegraph Oliver had warned the newspaper against running a critical story on MPs expenses claimed by Culture Secretary Maria Miller because of her role in enacting proposals in the Leveson report. Downing Street denied that any threats were made.[21][22][23] The Parliamentary Commission for Standards subsequently launched an investigation into Miller's expenses.[24][25]

Post-Downing Street career[edit]

Oliver received a Knighthood in the 2016 Resignation Honours after David Cameron stepped down as Prime Minister in the wake of the European Union membership referendum.[26] After leaving Downing Street, Oliver wrote an account of the referendum campaign, published in October 2016. The book, Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit, was serialised in the Mail on Sunday in September 2016, and claims that David Cameron felt "badly let down" by Theresa May (who was Home Secretary during the referendum campaign) because she failed to back the remain side.[27]

Oliver has also entered the 'revolving door' and become a senior managing director at Teneo, a consultancy that already employs William Hague as a consultant, where he will advise on Brexit.[28]

Business interests[edit]

In June 2010 Oliver became a director of BBC World News Limited.[29] He has served as company secretary of Paya Ltd, a company founded by his wife, since 2005, but declared his intention to relinquish this role on taking up his position at Downing Street.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Oliver married BBC News presenter Joanna Gosling in 1996[10] and they had three children together.[31] Oliver and Gosling separated in March 2014.[32]


  1. ^ Gordon, Jane (8 October 2011). "Interiors special: The busy woman's guide to everything". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "PM finds his man". BBC News. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  3. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 6 July 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c Barnes, Eddie (5 February 2011). "Who is Craig Oliver and how will the Scot fare as David Cameron's new communications director?". The Scotsman. 
  5. ^ Burrell, Ian (3 February 2011). "Cameron raids the BBC for his new king of spin". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Profile: Craig Oliver". BBC News. BBC. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  7. ^ "Diploma and Masters Options". Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Craig Oliver’s first appearance on camera". 2 February 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "Biographies: Craig Oliver". BBC Press Office. BBC. August 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "Media Diary". The Observer. 19 February 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Sweney, Mark (6 May 2010). "Kevin Bakhurst named deputy head of BBC Newsroom". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  12. ^ Lutt, Oliver (20 May 2009). "Craig Oliver made deputy head of BBC multimedia newsroom". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  13. ^ "BBC Global News announces three senior management appointments". BBC Press Office. BBC. 30 April 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "BBC's Craig Oliver replacing Andy Coulson at No 10". BBC News. BBC. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  15. ^ Cusick, James (10 July 2012). "Coulson's last job at Downing St was to line up his replacement". The Independent. Independent Print Ltd. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  16. ^ "It's spin doctor Dre! Cameron's new press chief arrives at Downing Street with trendy bag and hip-hop headphones". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  17. ^ "David Cameron's new man makes first gaffe". Telegraph Online. Telegraph Media Group. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  18. ^ Petre, Jonathan (12 June 2011). "'No matter how often he's told, Clegg is still pulling his glum face': The hoax that left MPs all a twitter". The Mail on Sunday. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  19. ^ Wintour, Patrick (24 May 2012). "Leveson inquiry: Craig Oliver's 'discreet' dinner with Frédéric Michel". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  20. ^ "David Cameron adviser Craig Oliver filmed berating BBC reporter". The Scotsman. Johnston Press. 29 May 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  21. ^ "No 10 denies 'threats' made over Daily Telegraph probe". BBC News. BBC. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  22. ^ Wright, Oliver (12 December 2012). "Senior David Cameron aide accused of threatening newspaper over Maria Miller investigation". The Independent. Independent Print Ltd. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  23. ^ Watt, Nicholas (12 December 2012). "Downing Street and Daily Telegraph at war over Maria Miller allegations". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  24. ^ Watt, Nicholas (13 December 2012). "Maria Miller faces parliamentary investigation into her expenses". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  25. ^ "Maria Miller expenses inquiry launched". BBC News. BBC News. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  26. ^ "George Osborne tops ex-PM David Cameron's honours list". BBC News. BBC. 4 August 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2016. 
  27. ^ "David Cameron 'let down' by Theresa May, says former PM aide". BBC News. BBC. 25 September 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2016. 
  28. ^ "PR agencies stock up on Brexit-savvy politicos". i News. 18 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  29. ^ "Companies House website". Company number 04514407. Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  30. ^ Lewis, Jason (5 February 2011). "David Cameron's new spin doctor and his tax avoidance plan". Telegraph Online. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  31. ^ Chapman, James (3 February 2011). "BBC journalist appointed as Cameron’s new communications chief after Andy Coulson’s departure". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  32. ^ Walker, Tim (20 March 2014). "David Cameron's aide Craig Oliver splits from his wife". Telegraph Online. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Andy Coulson
Downing Street Director of Communications
Succeeded by
Katie Perrior