Permanent Secretary

Matthew Rycroft CBE


Matthew Rycroft CBE has been the Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Development since 22 January 2018.

Matthew was previously the British Permanent Representative to the United Nations from April 2015 to January 2018.

From March 2011, Matthew was the FCO’s Chief Operating Officer. In that role he oversaw the running of the FCO and its network of 270 posts around the world, including all the Human Resources, Finance, Estates, Security, Information Technology, Protocol, Procurement and Corporate Services. He deputised for the Permanent Under Secretary in his absence.

Matthew was born on 16 June 1968, and brought up in Southampton and Cambridge. He has a degree in maths and philosophy from Merton College, Oxford.

Matthew joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1989. After a few months at the UN in Geneva and then on the NATO desk in London, he spent four years in the British Embassy in Paris.

In 1995-96 Matthew was head of the political section of Eastern Adriatic Department in the FCO. In this role he was a member of the British delegation to the Dayton peace talks on Bosnia.

After two years in the FCO’s Policy Planning Staff covering European and trans-Atlantic issues and brief secondments to the US State Department and US Congress, Matthew joined the British Embassy in Washington, following US domestic politics from 1998 to 2002.

From 2002 to 2004, Matthew was Private Secretary to the Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs, covering all foreign, European, Northern Ireland and defence issues in No10. He received a CBE for this work.

He was British Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2005 and the FCO Europe Director from 2008.

Matthew is married to Alison. They have three daughters, born in 1998, 2000 and 2005. Matthew speaks French and Bosnian, plays the double bass, and enjoys soccer and other sports.

Permanent Secretary

The Permanent Secretary is the most senior Civil Servant in the department.

The Permanent Secretary is the accounting officer for the department, meaning that they are answerable to Parliament for how the department spends money, and chairs the Executive Management Committee, which provides strategic direction to the management of DFID’s operations, staff and financial resources.

Previous roles in government

  1. Ambassador and Permanent Representative, UK Mission to the UN New York

    • 2015 to 2017
  2. Chief Operating Officer

    • 2011 to 2014


  1. "I am very pleased to be able to finish my time in New York with a session on Colombia, one of our greatest success stories"
  2. "Let us not forget: A prosperous, stable Iran is beneficial us all, in the region and beyond"
  3. "We have taken these steps to restrict the income the DPRK uses to fund its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile programs"
  4. "As our world becomes more connected, so too will the challenges that we face. So to succeed, we must confront them together"
  5. "The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is one of the greatest diplomatic successes in recent memory"
  6. "The delivery of cross-border aid provides a lifeline for millions...who would be impossible to reach in a sustained manner from within Syria"
  7. "I once again reaffirm our strong support for renewed peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians as soon as possible"
  8. "I repeat the United Kingdom’s call for North Korea to allow human rights actors immediate and unhindered access to assess the human rights situation"
  9. "Today I reaffirm our strong support for renewed peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians as soon as possible"
  10. "We condemn, in the strongest terms, North Korea’s actions and its continued pursuit of its illegal ballistic missile and nuclear programme"