Clare Moriarty and David Sterling recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

By on 12/10/2020 | Updated on 27/01/2022
Clare Moriarty has been described by a former colleague as having "always epitomised the best in public service".

Two recently-retired UK civil service chiefs, Clare Moriarty and David Sterling, have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Moriarty – who’s quoted in GGF’s latest Brexit analysis – left the civil service in January when the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), where she was permanent secretary, closed its doors. Previously, she was perm sec at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). We will be publishing a full interview with her soon.

David Sterling left the Northern Ireland Civil Service last month after 42 years in government, latterly as head of the service. He led the civil service through one of the most difficult periods in its history: the three years when, following the collapse of the Sinn Fein-DUP administration in January 2017, Northern Ireland had no executive or assembly. The civil service had to work without the direction of ministers until power-sharing was restored in January this year.

The Birthday Honours, one of two annual honours lists to be published in the UK, rewards individuals’ bravery, achievement, or service to the UK and the British Overseas Territories. Moriarty has become a Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath and Sterling a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, permitting them to use the honorifics Dame and Sir respectively.

Praise online

A number of former colleagues offered Moriarty their congratulations on Twitter, one describing her as “brilliant, inspirational and caring”, and another as having “always epitomised the best in public service”.

Gus O’Donnell, former Cabinet secretary and head of the UK civil service, said on Twitter that Moriarty’s honour is “thoroughly deserved” and added: “Brings me back to a key question: why are so many really good civil servants leaving the service?”

Six permanent secretaries have either decided to leave or been forced out of the civil service in recent months, including Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, the government’s legal chief Sir Jonathan Jones, and Ministry of Justice perm sec Sir Richard Heaton.

46 officials honoured

Other high-profile civil service and diplomatic service awards include Sir Tim Barrow, political director at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and UK Ambassador to the European Union; Sir Julian King, who served as the UK’s final commissioner to the EU; and Sarah MacIntosh, the UK’s permanent representative to NATO.

A further 41 government department and agency workers have been honoured in the list, and will become either OBEs (Office of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) or MBEs (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).

This year’s Birthday Honours list recognises a total of 1,495 people for their achievements – 72% of whom are frontline workers or community volunteers, who have worked tirelessly since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch out for our full interview with Clare Moriarty, which will be published shortly.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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