News story

Dame Helen Ghosh to leave the civil service to head the National Trust

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Dame Helen Ghosh DCB to step down as permanent secretary of the Home Office to take up the role of director general of the National Trust.

Dame Helen will leave the department in September after a 33 year career in the civil service.

Helen Ghosh said:

‘I have been privileged to lead the home office and feel very torn about leaving. But the work of the national trust is something that is very close to my heart and this was a rare opportunity to lead a major voluntary organisation which I could not allow to pass by.

‘The work of the home office is of fundamental importance to the very fabric of our society and I know better than anyone the dedication and hard work staff put in to make Britain safe and secure. Delivering a safe and secure olympic games is the most recent example, but there are many more.

‘I will be doing my utmost over the next few weeks to ensure that the Home Secretary and her ministers have all the support they need in this period so that the department is in the best possible shape for the future.”

Home secretary Theresa May said:

‘I am very grateful to Helen for her support, wise counsel and outstanding leadership of the home office during an extremely busy period for the department.

‘She has made a great contribution to the civil service throughout her long and distinguished career and I am sure she will continue to play a significant role in public life in her new role as director general of the national trust. This is an important role to which Helen will be able to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience and they are very lucky to have secured her services. I wish her every success for the future.’

Head of the civil service Sir Bob Kerslake said:

‘As permanent secretary at defra and the home office, Helen has delivered extraordinary change including departmental reform, the independent UK border force and support for the successful London olympics. She has been an inspiring leader, who has made a very strong corporate contribution, both via the civil service board, leading the capability strand of our civil service reform programme and as a vibrant role model and champion of talent and diversity. I wish her every success in her new leadership role at the national trust.”

Helen Kilpatrick, director general of the financial and commercial group, will stand in as interim permanent secretary until a replacement for Helen Ghosh is appointed.

Notes to editors

1. Helen Ghosh joined the civil service from university in 1979. Her first job was in the former department of the environment where she held a series of policy and private office roles through the 1980s and 1990s. From 1995 to 1997, she was in the cabinet office efficiency unit. She then moved to a more delivery-focused role in the government office for London, where she worked as director for east London regeneration. In 1999, she moved back to Whitehall, working for the department of the environment, transport and the regions and the department for work and pensions on cross-cutting policy and delivery issues. After a further spell in the cabinet office, in April 2003 she took up the role of director general of corporate services at HM revenue & customs. In November 2005, she was appointed permanent secretary at the department for environment, food and rural affairs. She became permanent secretary at the home office on 1 January 2011. Helen is married and lives in Oxford. She has a daughter and a son.

2. Helen Kilpatrick joined the home office in 2005 as director general of the financial and commercial group. In addition to her duties as director general, Helen is home office board champion for diversity, gender, devolution, sustainability and better regulation. Helen started her career in local government, joining the finance department of the greater London council in 1982. She qualified as a member of the chartered institute of public finance and accountancy in 1986 and then held a variety of posts in London boroughs before moving to West Sussex county council where she later became deputy chief executive.