Richard Heaton

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Person.png Richard Heaton  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(lawyer, civil servant)
Richard Heaton.jpg
Alma materWorcester College(Oxford), Inns of Court School of Law
Former senior British civil servant

Employment.png Clerk of the Crown in Chancery Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
August 2015 - August 2020

Employment.png Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
August 2012 - August 2015

Employment.png First Parliamentary Counsel

In office
February 2012 - 2015

Sir Richard Nicholas Heaton is a barrister and former senior British civil servant who was the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and Clerk of the Crown in Chancery from September 2015[1] until resigning in August 2020. He had was previously Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary,[2][3] and First Parliamentary Counsel.[4]

Early life and education

Heaton was born on 5 October 1965.[5] He read law at Worcester College, Oxford, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1987.[6][7]


Heaton worked as a barrister, after being called to the bar at Inner Temple in 1988.[8] He joined the Government Legal Service in 1991 where he remained until moving to the Department for Constitutional Affairs in 2004 where he served as Director of Legal Services.[9] He then went on to work as Head of law and governance at the Department for Work and Pensions from 2007 to 2009, and Director General for pensions and ageing society from 2009 to 2012.

In February 2012, Heaton became First Parliamentary Counsel, replacing the retiring Sir Stephen Laws.[4] In August 2012, he was additionally appointed Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary, taking over from Ian Watmore, splitting his time between the two roles.[7] In his role as First Parliamentary Counsel he launched the Good Law initiative, seeking to reduce complexity in legislation.[10] In April 2014, he became Civil Service Race Champion.[9]

On 2 July 2015, it was announced that Heaton would leave the Cabinet Office to take up the position of Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice (formally, the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery), replacing Dame Ursula Brennan on her retirement.[11] His Cabinet Office roles were split: as Permanent Secretary, he was replaced by John Manzoni;[12] as First Parliamentary Counsel, Elizabeth Gardiner replaced him.[13]

As of 2015, Heaton was paid a salary of between £180,000 and £184,999 by the department, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.[14]

In July 2020, it was announced that Heaton would leave the Civil Service as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice in August 2020.[15] He was succeeded by Antonia Romeo on 18 January 2021.[16]

Academic career

On 13 May 2021, it was announced that Heaton was to succeed David Yates as Warden of Robinson College, Cambridge.[17] He will take up the post on 1 October 2021, and will be the college's third warden.[17][18]


  1. September 2015
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