Jeremy Heywood

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The Lord Heywood of Whitehall

Sir Jeremy Heywood at the Civil Service Board meeting, January 2015
Heywood in 2015
Cabinet Secretary
In office
1 January 2012 – 24 October 2018
Prime Minister
Preceded byGus O'Donnell
Succeeded byMark Sedwill
Head of the Home Civil Service
In office
September 2014 – 24 October 2018
Prime Minister
Preceded byBob Kerslake
Succeeded byMark Sedwill
Downing Street Permanent Secretary
In office
11 May 2010 – 1 January 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded bySimon Case (2020)
Downing Street Chief of Staff
In office
10 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byStephen Carter
Succeeded byEdward Llewellyn
Principal Private Secretary to the
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
23 January 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byTom Scholar
Succeeded byJames Bowler
In office
4 June 1999 – 10 July 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byIvan Rogers
Succeeded bySir John Holmes
Personal details
Jeremy John Heywood

(1961-12-31)31 December 1961
Glossop, Derbyshire, England
Died4 November 2018(2018-11-04) (aged 56)
London, England
(m. 1997)
Alma mater

Jeremy John Heywood, Baron Heywood of Whitehall, GCB, CVO (31 December 1961 – 4 November 2018) was a British civil servant who served as Cabinet Secretary to David Cameron and Theresa May from 2012 to 2018 and Head of the Home Civil Service from 2014 to 2018. He served as the Principal Private Secretary to Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1999 to 2003 and 2008 to 2010. He also served as Downing Street Chief of Staff and the first Downing Street Permanent Secretary.[1][2] After he was diagnosed with lung cancer,[3] he took a leave of absence from June 2018, and retired on health grounds on 24 October 2018, receiving a life peerage; he died two weeks later on 4 November 2018.

Early life and education[edit]

Heywood was born on 31 December 1961 in Glossop, Derbyshire, England.[4] His parents were Peter Heywood and Brenda Swinbank,[5][6][7] who met as teachers at Ackworth School in West Yorkshire, one of a few Quaker educational establishments in England.

Heywood was educated at the independent Quaker Bootham School in York, where his father taught English.[8] He studied history and economics at Hertford College, Oxford (where he was later made an Honorary Fellow), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1983. He later studied economics at London School of Economics and was awarded Master of Science degree from University of London in 1986.[9] He also attended the Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School in 1994.[4]


From 1983 to 1984, Heywood worked as an economist at the Health and Safety Executive, before moving to the Treasury,[10] and became the Principal Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer then Norman Lamont at the age of 30, having to help mitigate the fallout from Black Wednesday after less than a month in the job.[11] He remained in this role throughout the 1990s under Chancellors Kenneth Clarke and Gordon Brown. He was economic and domestic policy secretary to Tony Blair from 1997 to 1998,[10] before being promoted to be the Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1999. He stayed in this position until 2003, when he left the civil service in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry where it emerged that he said he had never minuted meetings in the Prime Ministerial offices about David Kelly, a job he was required to do.

He became a managing director of the UK Investment Banking Division at Morgan Stanley where he was embroiled in the aftermath of the collapse of Southern Cross Healthcare.[12] Upon Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister in 2007, Heywood returned to government as Head of Domestic Policy and Strategy at the Cabinet Office.

He later resumed the post of Principal Private Secretary, as well as being appointed the Downing Street Chief of Staff after the resignation of Stephen Carter.[13] In 2010, after David Cameron became Prime Minister, Heywood was replaced as Chief of Staff by Edward Llewellyn and as Principal Private Secretary by James Bowler.[14] He returned to the civil service and was subsequently appointed the first Downing Street Permanent Secretary, a role created for the purpose of liaising between the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief of Staff within the Cabinet Office.[15]

Cabinet Secretary[edit]

On 11 October 2011 it was announced that Heywood would replace Sir Gus O'Donnell as the Cabinet Secretary, the highest-ranked official in Her Majesty's Civil Service, upon the latter's retirement in January 2012. It was also announced that Heywood would not concurrently hold the roles of Head of the Home Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office, as would usually be the case. These positions instead went to Sir Bob Kerslake and Ian Watmore respectively. On 1 January 2012, Heywood was knighted and officially made Cabinet Secretary. In July 2014 it was announced that Kerslake would step down and Heywood would take the title of Head of the Home Civil Service in the coming autumn.[16] In September 2014, Heywood duly succeeded Kerslake.[17] As of September 2015, Heywood was paid a salary of between £195,000 and £199,999, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.[18]

In June 2013, he visited The Guardian's offices to warn its then editor, Alan Rusbridger, that The Guardian's involvement with Edward Snowden could make it a target for "our guys" in British intelligence and "Chinese agents on your staff".[10]

He was criticised when he vetoed release to the Chilcot Inquiry of 150 letters and records of phone calls between Tony Blair and President George W. Bush before the 2003 Iraq War.[19]

Illness and death[edit]

After years of heavy smoking, Heywood was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2017 and took a leave of absence from his position in June 2018 owing to his illness.[3][20] He retired on health grounds on 24 October 2018,[21] and died on 4 November at the age of 56.[22][20]

Personal life[edit]

Heywood was the son of archaeologist Brenda Swinbank.

In 1997, Heywood married Suzanne Cook. Together they had three children, including twins.[4] Suzanne is a former civil servant who moved into the private sector: she has been managing director of the Exor Group since 2016 and chair of CNH Industrial since 2018.[23][24]


Heywood was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2002 New Year Honours,[25] and a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 2003.[26] He was promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2012 New Year Honours, and was thereby granted the title Sir.[27][28] The Parliamentary Public Administration Committee cited the example of Heywood's knighthood as an automatic honour granted due to his position.[29] He was promoted to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 31 October 2018.[30][31]

On Heywood's retirement as Cabinet Secretary on 24 October 2018, the Prime Minister Theresa May nominated him for a life peerage in recognition of his distinguished service to public life.[21] He was created Baron Heywood of Whitehall, of Glossop in the County of Derbyshire on 26 October 2018,[32] shortly before his death.[33][34][35]


  1. ^ Senior Appointments, 10 Downing Street website, 23 January 2008, archived from the original on 16 January 2010, retrieved 19 January 2010
  2. ^ "Cabinet Office Structure Charts" (PDF). Cabinet Office HM Government. May 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Former head of UK civil service, Sir Jeremy Heywood, dies at 56". Global Government Forum. 5 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Heywood, Sir Jeremy (John), (born 31 Dec. 1961), Cabinet Secretary, since 2012, and Head of Civil Service, since 2014, Cabinet Office". Heywood, Sir Jeremy (John). Who's Who 2018. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2017. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U20034.
  5. ^ "Book Review – Recollections of a Female Archaeologist: A Life of Brenda Swinbank". HARN Weblog. 29 June 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  6. ^ Recollections of a Female Archaeologist.
  7. ^ Andrew Gregory (5 March 2012). "The most powerful unelected man in Britain". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  8. ^ Bootham School Register. York, England: Bootham Old Scholars Association. 2011.
  9. ^ "Jeremy Heywood". Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  10. ^ a b c Beckett, Andy (27 January 2016). "The most potent, permanent and elusive figure in British politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  11. ^ Bowlby, Chris (21 October 2011). "Profile: Jeremy Heywood – the next Cabinet Secretary". BBC News. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  12. ^ Nick Robinson (12 June 2007). "A new and vital role". BBC News. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  13. ^ "Brown chooses former Blair aide". BBC News. 12 June 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  14. ^ Mortimore, Roger; Blick, Andrew (2018). Butler's British Political Facts. Springer. p. 220. ISBN 9781137567093. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  15. ^ Gentleman, Amelia (6 December 2012). "Sir Jeremy Heywood: the civil servant propping up the government". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  16. ^ Rajeev Syal; Patrick Wintour (15 July 2014). "Anger over 'political' departure of civil service head Sir Bob Kerslake". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Sir Jeremy Heywood". GOV.UK. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Senior officials 'high earners' salaries as at 30 September 2015 – GOV.UK". 17 December 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  19. ^ Elgot, Jessica (24 October 2018). "Jeremy Heywood: a look back at the cabinet secretary's illustrious career". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Ex-civil service chief Sir Jeremy Heywood dies". BBC News. 4 November 2018.
  21. ^ a b Statement on Sir Jeremy Heywood,, 24 October 2018
  22. ^ "Former Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood dies from cancer at 56". ITV News. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  23. ^ "Heywood, Suzanne Elizabeth, (Lady Heywood), (born 25 Feb. 1969), Managing Director, Exor Group, since 2016; Director, CNH Industrial, since 2016". Heywood, Suzanne Elizabeth, (Lady Heywood). Who's Who 2018. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2017. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U281905. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Profiles - Suzanne Heywood". Bloomberg. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  25. ^ "No. 56430". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2001. p. 2.
  26. ^ "No. 57151". The London Gazette. 24 December 2003. p. 15870.
  27. ^ "No. 60009". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2011. p. 2.
  28. ^ "New Year Honours 2012: full list of recipients". The Telegraph. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  29. ^ Public Administration Select Committee (17 July 2012). "3. Increasing public trust in the honours system". Second Report: The Honours System. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  30. ^ "No. 62459". The London Gazette. 7 November 2018. p. 20169.
  31. ^ "Knight Grand Cross conferred on Sir Jeremy Heywood". GOV.UK.
  32. ^ "No. 62453". The London Gazette. 1 November 2018. p. 19809.
  33. ^ "PM Theresa May and Sir Mark Sedwill's statement on Jeremy Heywood". GOV.UK. Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street. 4 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  34. ^ Garter Principal King of Arms (25 October 2018). "Summons for The Lord Heywood of Whitehall". Twitter. Retrieved 25 October 2018 – via Andrew Adonis, Baron Adonis.
  35. ^ "Deaths of Members". UK Parliament. 5 November 2018.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Holmes
Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
Succeeded by
Ivan Rogers
Preceded by
Tom Scholar
Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
Succeeded by
James Bowler
Preceded by
Stephen Carter
Downing Street Chief of Staff
Succeeded by
Edward Llewellyn
New title Downing Street Permanent Secretary
Office abolished
Preceded by
Sir Gus O'Donnell
Cabinet Secretary
Succeeded by
Sir Mark Sedwill
Preceded by
Sir Bob Kerslake
Head of the Home Civil Service
Succeeded by
Sir Mark Sedwill