Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

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Employment.png Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 
(civil servant)

The most senior civil servant of the British Foreign Office. Deep state position.

The Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is the most senior civil servant in the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (and its predecessors) since 1790.

Not to be confused with Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

A permanent secretary of state, is the most senior civil servant of a ministry in the United Kingdom, charged with running the department on a day-to-day basis. Similar offices, often employing different terms, exist in many other Westminster-style systems and in some other governments. In the United States, the equivalent position is a Deputy Secretary of an executive department, though British permanent secretaries are career civil servants (whereas Deputy Secretaries are political appointees).

Permanent secretaries are the non-political civil service chief executives of government departments, who generally hold their position for a number of years (thus "permanent") at a ministry as distinct from the changing political secretaries of state to whom they report and provide advice.[1]


Office Holders on Wikispooks

Simon McDonaldSeptember 2015September 2020
Simon Fraser2010September 2015
Peter Ricketts20062010
Patrick Wright19861991
Antony Acland19821986
Thomas Brimelow19731975
Denis Greenhill19691973
Paul Gore-Booth19651969
Harold Caccia19621965
Frederick Hoyer Millar19571962
Ivone Kirkpatrick19531957
Alexander Cadogan19381948
Ronald Lindsay19281930


  1. Cooper, C.A. Politics and the permanency of permanent secretaries: testing the vitality of the Westminster administrative tradition, 1949–2014. British Politics (2019).