Jeremy Heywood

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Person.png Lord Heywood of Whitehall   PowerbaseRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Jeremy Heywood.jpg
Born31 December 1961
Died4 November 2018 (Age 56)
Alma materHertford College (Oxford), London School of Economics, Harvard Business School
SpouseSuzanne Elizabeth Cook
Former Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service known as "Sir Cover-up".

Employment.png Cabinet Secretary Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
1 January 2012 - 24 October 2018
Preceded byGus O'Donnell
Succeeded byMark Sedwill

Employment.png Head of the Home Civil Service Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
September 2014 - 24 October 2018

Employment.png Downing Street Permanent Secretary

In office
11 May 2010 - 1 January 2012

Employment.png Downing Street Chief of Staff Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
10 October 2008 - 11 May 2010
Preceded byStephen Carter
Succeeded byEdward Llewellyn

Jeremy John Heywood, Baron Heywood of Whitehall (31 December 1961 – 4 November 2018) was a British civil servant who was Cabinet Secretary to David Cameron and Theresa May from 2012 to 2018 and Head of the Home Civil Service from 2014 to 2018. He was the Principal Private Secretary to Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1999 to 2003 and 2008 to 2010. He was also Downing Street Chief of Staff and the first Downing Street Permanent Secretary.

After Sir Jeremy Heywood was diagnosed with lung cancer, 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.


Heywood was educated at Bootham School,[1] an independent school with a Quaker background and ethos in York, before taking a BA in History and Economics at Hertford College (Oxford) and an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics. He also studied for a semester at Harvard Business School.[2]


Sir Jeremy Heywood was appointed Cabinet Secretary following the announcement of Sir Gus O’Donnell’s retirement in December 2011. From September 2014 he also took on the title Head of the Civil Service. Prior to that, Heywood was Permanent Secretary to two successive Prime Ministers at 10 Downing Street. He also spent over three years as a Managing Director including as co-head (with Jonathan Powell) of the UK Investment Banking Division at Morgan Stanley. Before joining Morgan Stanley, Sir Jeremy Heywood occupied a range of senior civil service roles, including as Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister (1999–2003).

Prior to that, he had a variety of senior roles at HM Treasury including:

  • Head of Securities and Markets Policy
  • Head of Corporate and Management Change

He was also Principal Private Secretary to Chancellors Norman Lamont and Kenneth Clarke and had a spell at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC.[3]


As Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, Sir Jeremy Heywood supervised a review of the UK's Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) which came into force on 1 January 2005.[4] Ministers launched the cross-party review just hours after papers released under FOIA on 17 July 2015 disclosed that British pilots had been clandestinely involved in bombing in Syria.[5]

In September 2015, departmental responsibility for the release of government files, under what is now the 20-year rule, was transferred from the Justice Ministry to Sir Jeremy's Cabinet Office. The Public Records Act 1958 requires government departments to assess files for declassification and transfer them to the National Archives at Kew, or state publicly why they should remain classified. In December 2014, 500 files from 1985 and 1986 were released at Kew, which allowed reporters to go through a full list containing thousands of documents. In 2015, the Cabinet Office released just 58 highly edited and selective digitised files covering the period 1986-88 to journalists, with the promise of more files to come over the course of 2016. Sir Bob Kerslake, former Head of the Civil Service, criticised the Cabinet Office's intention to publish documents on a monthly basis as a way of managing information — in effect, of burying bad news.[6]

Sir Cover-up

In October 2015, Sir Jeremy denied being "Sir Cover-up" as he faced accusations of slowing down the release of the Chilcot Inquiry's report into the Iraq War.[7]

In December 2015, Heywood was accused of suppressing the release of government files into the public domain. Among the files containing ‘politically sensitive information’ that should have been released but were withheld are those dealing with the Gibraltar shootings and Pan Am Flight 103.[8]

“Scapegoating” Lord Heywood

Lord Heywood and former Prime Minister David Cameron were criticised in the 2021 investigation report into the Lex Greensill lobbying scandal.

Nigel Boardman's report was published on 22 July 2021.

Boardman’s report said Lex Greensill, the owner of Greensill Capital, was given “extraordinarily privileged” access to Downing Street while the government’s process for managing lobbying was found to be insufficiently transparent given it allows access to a “privileged few”.

Cameron also “understated” the nature of his relationship with Greensill when lobbying officials, the report added, also concluding that former Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood was “primarily responsible” for Lex Greensill securing a role in government as an adviser on Supply Chain Finance.

Lord Heywood’s widow, Suzanne, said the findings were a “convenient diversion from the embarrassment” Greensill Capital’s collapse had caused for the government, and said Boardman’s work was the result of a “deeply flawed process from beginning to end” that had ended up “scapegoating” her late husband.[9]


An appointment by Jeremy Heywood

Jon DayUK/Joint Intelligence Committee/ChairMarch 2012December 2015