The Right Honourable
The Lord Heywood of Whitehall
Sir Jeremy Heywood at the Civil Service Board meeting, January 2015
Heywood in 2015
Cabinet Secretary
In office
1 January 2012 – 24 October 2018
Prime Minister
Preceded bySir Gus O'Donnell
Succeeded bySir Mark Sedwill
Head of the Home Civil Service
In office
September 2014 – 24 October 2018
Prime Minister
Preceded bySir Bob Kerslake
Succeeded bySir Mark Sedwill
Downing Street Permanent Secretary
In office
11 May 2010 – 1 January 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Downing Street Chief of Staff
In office
10 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byStephen Carter
Succeeded byEdward Llewellyn
Principal Private Secretary to the
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
23 January 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byTom Scholar
Succeeded byJames Bowler
In office
4 June 1999 – 10 July 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byIvan Rogers
Succeeded bySir John Holmes
Personal details
BornJeremy John Heywood
(1961-12-31)31 December 1961
Glossop, Derbyshire, England
Died4 November 2018(2018-11-04) (aged 56)
Suzanne Cook (m. 1997)
Alma mater

Jeremy John Heywood, Baron Heywood of Whitehall, GCB, CVO (31 December 1961 – 4 November 2018) was a British civil servant. He served as Cabinet Secretary from 1 January 2012, and Head of the Home Civil Service from September 2014, until stepping down in October 2018. He had previously served twice as the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, as well as the Downing Street Chief of Staff and the first and only Downing Street Permanent Secretary.[1][2] After he was diagnosed with lung cancer,[3] he took a leave of absence from June 2018, and retired on health grounds on 24 October 2018, receiving a life peerage; he died two weeks later on 4 November 2018.

Early life and education

Jeremy Heywood was born on 31 December 1961 in Glossop, Derbyshire, England.[4] His parents were Peter Heywood and Brenda Swinbank,[5][6][7] who met as teachers at Ackworth School, one of a few Quaker educational establishments in England.

Heywood was educated at the independent Quaker Bootham School, where his father taught English.[8] He studied history and economics at Hertford College, Oxford, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1983, and economics at the London School of Economics, graduating with a Master of Science (MSc) degree in 1986.[9] He also attended the Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School in 1994.[4]


From 1983 to 1984, Heywood worked as an economist at the Health and Safety Executive, before moving to the Treasury,[10] and became the Principal Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer then Norman Lamont at the age of 30, having to help mitigate the fallout from Black Wednesday after less than a month in the job.[11] He remained in this role throughout the 1990s under Chancellors Kenneth Clarke and Gordon Brown. He was economic and domestic policy secretary to Tony Blair from 1997 to 1998,[10] before being promoted to be the Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1999. He stayed in this position until 2003, when he left the civil service in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry where it emerged that he said he had never minuted meetings in the Prime Ministerial offices about David Kelly, a job he was required to do.

He became a managing director of the UK Investment Banking Division at Morgan Stanley where he was embroiled in the aftermath of the collapse of Southern Cross Healthcare.[12] Upon Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister in 2007, Heywood returned to government as Head of Domestic Policy and Strategy at the Cabinet Office.

He later resumed the post of Principal Private Secretary, as well as being appointed the Downing Street Chief of Staff after the resignation of Stephen Carter.[13] In 2010, after David Cameron became Prime Minister, Heywood was replaced as Chief of Staff by Edward Llewellyn and as Principal Private Secretary by James Bowler.[14] He returned to the civil service and was subsequently appointed the first Downing Street Permanent Secretary, a role created for the purpose of liaising between the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief of Staff within the Cabinet Office.[15]

Cabinet Secretary

On 11 October 2011 it was announced that Heywood would replace Sir Gus O'Donnell as the Cabinet Secretary, the highest-ranked official in Her Majesty's Civil Service, upon the latter's retirement in January 2012. It was also announced that Heywood would not concurrently hold the roles of Head of the Home Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office, as would usually be the case. These positions instead went to Sir Bob Kerslake and Ian Watmore respectively. On 1 January 2012, Heywood was knighted and officially made Cabinet Secretary. In July 2014 it was announced that Kerslake would step down and Heywood would take the title of Head of the Home Civil Service in the coming autumn.[16] In September 2014, Heywood duly succeeded Kerslake.[17] As of September 2015, Heywood was paid a salary of between £195,000 and £199,999, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.[18]

In June 2013, he visited The Guardian's offices to warn its then editor, Alan Rusbridger, that The Guardian's involvement with Edward Snowden could make it a target for "our guys" in British intelligence and "Chinese agents on your staff".[10]

He was criticised when he vetoed release to the Chilcot Inquiry of 150 letters and records of phone calls between Tony Blair and President George W. Bush before the 2003 Iraq War.[19]

Illness and death

Heywood was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2017 and took a leave of absence from his position in June 2018 owing to his illness.[3][20] He retired on health grounds on 24 October 2018.[21]

He died on 4 November 2018, aged 56.[22][20]

Personal life

In 1997, Heywood married Suzanne Cook. Together they had three children, including twins.[4] Suzanne is a former civil servant who moved into the private sector: she has been managing director of the Exor Group since 2016 and chair of CNH Industrial since 2018.[23][24]


Heywood was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2002 New Year Honours,[25] and a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 2003.[26] promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2012 New Year Honours, and was thereby granted the title sir.[27][28] The Parliamentary Public Administration Committee cited the example of Heywood's knighthood as an automatic honour granted due to his position.[29] He was promoted to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 31 October 2018.[30][31]

On Heywood's retirement as Cabinet Secretary on 24 October 2018, the Prime Minister Theresa May nominated him for a life peerage in recognition of his distinguished service to public life.[21] He was created Baron Heywood of Whitehall, of Glossop in the County of Derbyshire on 26 October 2018,[32] shortly before his death.[33][34][35]

Titles and styles