Press release

New First Parliamentary Counsel

Sir Gus O’Donnell has announced the appointment of Richard Heaton as First Parliamentary Counsel and Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.

29 November 2011

The Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O’Donnell, is pleased to announce the appointment of Richard Heaton as the new First Parliamentary Counsel and Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and Offices of the Parliamentary Business Managers.

Richard, who was previously the Director General for Pensions and Transformation at DWP and the senior lawyer at both DWP and MOJ, was chosen following an internal competition. This follows Stephen Law’s recent decision to retire early next year. The appointment has been approved by the Prime Minister. Richard will take up post in February 2012.

The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, said:

I am delighted Richard has been appointed as First Parliamentary Counsel. He brings a wealth of experience to the role, working previously as the senior lawyer in both the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice.

He is a proven leader with the necessary skills to lead the department through the years ahead and build on the excellent work of his predecessor, Stephen Laws.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Stephen for all his hard work and considerable achievements during his time in the post. I am very grateful to him for all he has done and wish him well in his retirement.

Commenting on his new role, Richard said:

I’m delighted to be invited to take this role.  I’ve always been passionate about the importance of good, clear law, and I’ve enormous respect for the skills and expertise of Parliamentary Counsel and of the Parliamentary Business Managers.  I’m looking forward to working with colleagues across the civil service, and I hope to build on the excellent work of Stephen Laws and his distinguished predecessors.

Notes to Editors

  1. Richard was previously the Director General for Pensions and Transformation at DWP, a post he took up in November 2009.
  2. From 2006 to 2008, he was DWP’s senior lawyer. Before joining DWP, Richard was the senior lawyer at the Department for Constitutional Affairs (now Ministry of Justice). Richard’s previous posts have been in the Home Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Cabinet Office. 

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