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Foreign Office permanent secretary to step down in July

23  76K3993 editThe Foreign Office permanent secretary, Sir Simon Fraser, has announced he will step down in July after five years in the job.

Sir Simon joined the FCO in 1979, rising to the top job in 2010. While at the department he specialised in Europe, international economic policy and the Middle East. He served in Baghdad, Damascus, Paris and Brussels.

He has also served as permanent secretary in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Announcing his departure, Sir Simon said it has been a “tremendous honour” to lead the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“I feel that this is the right time to stand down and to allow someone else to guide the organisation through the coming phase under the next government. I pay tribute to the dedicated and skilled staff of the FCO who give such outstanding service to our country every day in all corners of the world.”

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood hailed  Sir Simon as a “great, reforming Civil Service leader”, praising his service in both the FCO and BIS.

“He has taken the FCO to new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and openness and will leave a lasting legacy of diplomatic excellence and a much stronger commercial orientation,” he added. “I would like to thank him for his outstanding contribution.”

The foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, thanked Sir Simon for his service and said that his strong leadership leaves the organisation in good shape.

A successor will be picked after the election. The department would not comment on Sir Simon’s future plans.

His departure also leaves vacant the role of Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Champion, which he took up last March. As part of this role he wrote an article for the Oct/Nov issue of PSE last year on diversity and the Civil Service’s Talent Action Plan.

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