Robert Armstrong, Baron Armstrong of Ilminster
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He was educated at the Dragon School, Eton College, where he was a King's Scholar, and Christ Church, Oxford, where he read Greats. In a long civil service career, Armstrong worked in several departments, including HM Treasury and the Home Office. From 1970 to 1975 he served as the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister. He was knighted in 1978. From 1979 to 1987, he served as Secretary of the Cabinet under Margaret Thatcher.
Armstrong was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1974, a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 1975 Birthday Honours. In the 1978 Birthday Honours he was promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) and to Knight Grand Cross (GCB) in the 1983 New Year Honours.
He is credited with bringing the phrase "economical with the truth" into popular usage, after he used it during the Spycatcher trial in 1986 - his use of the phrase was subsequently included in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
From 1994 to 2006, Lord Armstrong was Chancellor of the University of Hull. He was chairman of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation until 2013.
In 1986, Armstrong was the key witness for the British Government as it sought to suppress the publication of Spycatcher, which it alleged its author, Peter Wright had attempted to disclose confidential information. At the time Wright was a retired high ranking member of MI5 and was about to publish his book in Australia. The evidence given by Armstrong was widely ridiculed by the British press for its absurd ambiguity and seemly deceptive nature. Wright's lawyer, Malcolm Turnbull, who is now Prime Minister of Australia, was ultimately successful in lifting the publication ban. Turnbull described Armstrong as being like "Sir Humphrey Appleby" from Yes, Minister and said "[i]f he is an honest man, then he appears rather like a well educated mushroom".
Allegations of Child abuse cover-up
Armstrong was warned by the security services in 1986 that an MP had ‘a penchant for small boys’. But no action was taken and Armstrong, who refused to name the MP involved, insisted the allegations were just ‘shadows of a rumour’. He said he believed the decision not to investigate the paedophile claims was ‘correct at the time’. 
In popular culture
Armstrong has been portrayed by the following actors in film and television productions;
- Rupert Vansittart in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis's controversial The Falklands Play.
- Timothy West in the 2004 BBC production of The Alan Clark Diaries.
- The London Gazette: . 5 April 1974.
- The London Gazette: . 14 JUne 1975.
- The London Gazette: . 3 June 1978.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 1982.
- The London Gazette: . 3 March 1988.
- Lundy, Darryl. "p4448.htm". The Peerage. External link in
- see M. Turnbull, "The Spycatcher Trial" (1988).
- Hanning, James (1 February 2015). "Call for inquiry into links between senior civil servant Sir Peter Hayman and paedophile network in the 1980's". The Independent (London).
- Allen, Vanessa; Ellicott, Claire (23 July 2015). "Mrs T's Cabinet chief defends failure to act over senior Tory". Daily Mail (London).
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at PublicWhip.org
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou.com
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
|Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
Sir Arthur Peterson
|Permanent Secretary of the
Sir John Hunt
1979 – 1987
Sir Robin Butler
Sir Douglas Allen
|Head of the Home Civil Service
1981 – 1987
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