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Senior civil servant poached by Royals brought back to No10 to lead coronavirus response

Simon Case is on secondment from the Royal Household to Number 10 (PA)

2 min read

A former senior civil servant who left to work for the Royal Household has been brought back to Number 10 to co-ordinate the Government’s coronavirus response.

Simon Case, an ex-Brexit official and Downing Street PPS, is to return in a newly-created role as permanent secretary.

He will be the second-ever holder of the post, after the late Sir Jeremy Heywood spent two years in the job from 2010 to 2012.

Mr Case spent just over a year as principal private secretary to prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May before becoming director general for the UK-EU partnership in May 2017. 

Previously he was head of the Implementation Unit, the sector of the Cabinet Office set up to to support and coordinate departments’ work on key government policies, and director of strategy at the communications agency GCHQ.

But he left the civil service in July 2018 to become private secretary to Prince William – the most senior appointment in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's household.

A government spokesperson confirmed Mr Case was “extending his secondment from the Royal Household and will be supporting the Prime Minister and Cabinet in developing and implementing the Government's coronavirus response”.

And the PM’s official spokesman confirmed the move was “specifically co-ordinating the coronavirus response”, adding: “Coronavirus is obviously a very significant piece of cross-governmental work, and that’s what Simon is focused on.”

But the appointment could be seen as encroaching on the territory of Cabinet Secretary Sir Sedwill, who has been attracted criticism from some quarters because of his split role, which also sees him act as the Government's national security adviser as well as the head of the civil service.

Pressed on that point at the daily Number 10 lobby briefing, the PM's official spokeserson said: “Sir Mark is the Cabinet Secretary. Simon reports to Sir Mark.” 

And he denied that the appointment should be seen as Sir Mark’s “wings being clipped”, saying: “Absolutely not.”

Beckie Smith is a reporter for Civil Service World, where a version of this story first appeared

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