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Mon, 30 November 2020

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Boris Johnson greenlights £250,000 payment to outgoing Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill

Boris Johnson greenlights £250,000 payment to outgoing Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill

The outgoing head of the civil service will receive a “compensation payment of £248,189”.

3 min read

Sir Mark Sedwill is in line for a payout of nearly £250,000 after agreeing to step down as Cabinet Secretary early, a letter from Boris Johnson reveals.

The outgoing head of the civil service, who has also served as National Security Adviser to the PM, will receive a “compensation payment of £248,189” when he leaves the top Whitehall role later this year.

A letter from Mr Johnson to Cabinet Office permanent secretary Alex Chisholm says the payment is “likely to be in the form of a pension contribution”, with the PM authorising the top-up “in consideration of his employment position” and “Sir Mark stepping down early”.

“You have advised me that this is regular and legal, and value for money to do so,” Mr Johnson says.

“You have asked me to give my approval and make the final decisions because I am the responsible minister, and you report as a civil servant to Sir Mark and therefore cannot bring to bear the independent judgment required.”

The PM adds: “I accept this advice, and agree that I should hereby direct you formally to make this payment.”

Former chancellor Ed Balls said the payment was “astonishing”.

“I've never seen anything like it,” the Labour politician told ITV’s Peston.

“It looks to me as though it's the basis of a legal settlement.

“And what was the basis of the legal dispute which required a quarter of a million pound payment to a retiring cabinet secretary?

“I guess what would he have done if he hadn't got the money is the question."

The letter emerged after Sir Mark, who is leaving the Cabinet Secretary role after a spate of hostile media briefings against him and amid a wider planned shake-up of the civil service, told a Commons committee that he had not “resigned” but left his post “by agreement” with Mr Johnson.

"We had concluded it was time to split the jobs again and have a separate security adviser and separate cabinet secretary," he added.

He told the National Security Strategy Committee that it was “never my intention” to take on the top Whitehall job in the “long-term”, and said the exit had been “entirely amicable”.

But he hit out at the fact officials had now become "fair game" for hostile anonymous briefings to the media about their performance — a practice he called a “regrettable feature of modern politics”.

He added: "It is never pleasant to find oneself, particularly as an official, in the midst of stories of that kind.

"I don't think it is ever pleasant in government, whether it is against ministers, between them and particularly against officials, when you have briefings to which you cannot really reply, particularly those that are off the record and sniping away.”

A job advert posted to the government’s website on Wednesday shows that recruitment for a new Cabinet Secretary is now under way, with a salary of £200,000 a year offered and the job open to current and former departmental chiefs.

The separate National Security Adviser role vacated by Sir Mark will now go to David Frost, who has been leading the UK’s negotiations on its post-Brexit relationship with the European Union.

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