UK: Sir Simon Fraser steps down as Foreign Office chief

By on 16/04/2015
Sir Simon Fraser (left), former permanent secretary and head of the Diplomatic Service at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, pictured with former foreign secretary Philip Hammond (right) at the department's headquarters in London

Sir Simon Fraser, permanent secretary of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and head of its Diplomatic Service, will step down from his role and leave the British civil service in July this year.

A career diplomat, Fraser joined the FCO as head in August 2010 after serving in the British embassies in Baghdad and Damascus, and later working as chief of staff to European trade commissioner Peter Mandelson and as permanent secretary in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Fraser, who is also the government’s diversity champion, first joined the FCO in 1979.

In a press release issued today, Fraser said: “It has been a tremendous honour to lead the Foreign and Commonwealth Office over five exciting and demanding years.

“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.

“I am also pleased to have been able to contribute to the wider leadership of the civil service in my time at BIS and the FCO.”

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said: “Simon has been a great, reforming civil service leader, first at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and then for five years at the Foreign Office.

“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.

“I would like to thank him for his outstanding contribution.”

And foreign secretary Philip Hammond said: “I would like to thank Simon for taking the helm at a challenging time, playing a particularly important role in reinvigorating the Foreign Office with a strong focus on diplomatic excellence.

“Thanks to his strong personal leadership, he leaves the organisation in good shape for his successor, ready to face the future with confidence.”

Fraser will leave the civil service on 31 July.

The FCO declined to comment on his plans after July, but said a successor will be selected after the UK general election on 7 May.

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World – the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

One Comment

  1. David Smith

    18/04/2015 at

    He’s leaving a shambles. Plummeting morale. During his tenure he’s overseen the cutting of junior UK posts overseas, a crumbling IT system and to top it all the latest fiasco over the pay award. No wonder he’s going.

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