Joseph Pilling

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Sir Joseph Grant Pilling, KCB (born 8 July 1945)[1] is a retired British civil servant, currently serving on the boards of the Koestler Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.[2]

He was educated at Rochdale Grammar School, King's College London and Harvard University.

Pilling served as the Director-General of the Prison Service from 1991 to 1993, and then Director of Resources and Services in the Department of Health, before being appointed as Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office in 1997, where he served until 2005 when he retired.[3] But not for too long: in 2009 he accepted appointment by the Home Secretary as the UK's first and only Identity Commissioner,[4] a role having independent oversight of the National Identity Service government database (previously known as National Identity Scheme) and its controversial mission of recording, cataloguing and processing the personal details of everyone in the UK. He took office on 1 October 2009.[5]

In 2012 and 2013, Pilling chaired the House of Bishops of the Church of England Working Group on Human Sexuality. The group was commissioned by the House of Bishops in January 2012. It was composed of four bishops and was chaired by Pilling. In November 2013, the group submitted its report to the archbishops of Canterbury and York who published it. The archbishops recognised Pilling's comment that "disagreements have been explored in the warmth of a shared faith".[6]

He is married to Ann, Lady Pilling, an author, and was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2001 Birthday Honours, having previously been a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).[1] He is a member of the Athenaeum Club.

Offices held[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Director-General, HM Prison Service,
Home Office

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Director of Resources and Services,
Department of Health

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Permanent Secretary,
Northern Ireland Office

Succeeded by
Sir Jonathan Phillips
Preceded by
Commissioner, or Identity Commissioner,
National Identity Service

Succeeded by
Nobody, the position was abolished because of popular opposition


  1. ^ a b "No. 56237". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2001. p. 2. 
  2. ^ Director Check. "Sir Joseph Grant Pilling". Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Northern Ireland Office (23 September 2005). "Autumn Performance Report 2005". Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Travis, Alan. Guardian. 14 September 20098. "Commissioner appointed to oversee ID cards"
  5. ^ Home Office Website 14 Sep 2009
  6. ^ Pilling Report Published.