Thinking Anglicans

Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Appointment of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary: 15 July 2022

The Prime Minister has announced that he has appointed Mr Jonathan Hellewell, L.V.O., to be the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 15 July 2022

The Prime Minister has announced that he has appointed Mr Jonathan Hellewell, L.V.O., to be the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary following the retirement of Richard Tilbrook, C.V.O., at the end of June. Mr Tilbrook will continue part-time as Clerk to the Privy Council and retain responsibility for the appointment of Lord- Lieutenants.

Mr Hellewell will work with the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary on the consultations for diocesan bishop and Crown deanery appointments, attending meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission.

Mrs Helen Dimmock in the Cabinet Office remains responsible for parochial appointments where the Crown or Lord Chancellor is patron and will continue with some deanery appointments.

Mr Hellewell is a serving civil servant, having been Director of Honours and Information in the Cabinet Office since the end of January, just as Richard Tilbrook was responsible for the honours system prior to serving as Appointments Secretary. Mr Hellewell has previously worked in Number 10 Downing Street under Prime Ministers Johnson and May, including in the Policy Unit as Head of the Civil Society Unit and as the Prime Minister’s Faith Adviser. He has also served as Assistant Private Secretary to HRH The Prince of Wales for 8 years, and ran the Lambeth Trust, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal charity. He was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, an honour in the personal gift of The Queen, in 2015.

The competition to appoint the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary was externally advertised and was overseen by the Civil Service Commission.

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Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
26 days ago

Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to wait until Boris Johnson’s successor was selected before making this appointment?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Pat ONeill
26 days ago

From the above summary the selection process was correctly followed, and it’s doubtful that the Prime Minister took any part other than to formally approve it. At face value, Mr Hellewell seems to be very well qualified for the job.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Pat ONeill
26 days ago

As Mr Johnson has recently renewed his relationship with Roman Catholicism I doubt he had any involvement other than to scribble his signature on the paperwork. It is not a particularly contentious role though I expect that Mr Hellewell will be involved in the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Fr Dean
26 days ago

Except that a previous appointments secretary had a material impact on the career of Peter Ball who might otherwise not have been appointed to Gloucester. Influence can be significant in these roles, even if there is no vote attached.

Last edited 26 days ago by Mark Bennet
Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Mark Bennet
26 days ago

I suspect Mr Johnson was less involved than many of his predecessors. But the job is surely to seek out and evaluate those suitable for preferment of various kinds. I have often wondered how this is done. Anyone know?

Simon Cawdell
Reply to  Perry Butler
25 days ago

In the first instance a nomination by someone’s diocesan bishop. Then references are added. I believe files are also kept on others on the basis of, for example, knowledge of CNC members who might indicate people are ‘someone to watch.’ Or those who have been on the Leadership programme etc.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Mark Bennet
25 days ago

I think you are right. These “courtiers” can have significant influence through the advice they offer. So am I the only one to think it less than ideal that Mr Helewell, like William Nye, comes to the church after working as a secretary to Prince Charles. He has also worked in the honours system. Are the mindset, experiences and values likely to be developed in such roles the ones that are required in people appointed to advise and support the church of England through all the problems it faces today? We know that the Royal Family has an appalling record… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Simon Dawson
25 days ago

HM’s accounts are published every year. Even if I accepted your assessment that the Royal family lack openness, transparency and a willingness to change; how are they any different from the CofE or politicians? Democracy is the best form of government but it’s outcome has not been without its problems of late. Although it’s comparing apples with pears, our Supreme Governor has a higher approval rating than any other world leader I can think of. Even that boorish man Trump was cowed before Elizabeth II. ‘Soft’ power is also quite Christlike don’t you think?

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Fr Dean
25 days ago

Perhaps my point is that the Royal Family are just like the church, but are we happy with that? Both institutions try to display a gloss of perfection in public, and the Queen is more successful than this than the church, but perhaps we need to be a bit less credulous. Don’t be deceived by the aura of perfection expertly cast around the Queen, but instead draw back the curtain, ask what her courtiers are doing on her behalf in private, and, one presumes, with her agreement. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/jul/14/queen-immunity-british-laws-private-property (Scroll down to the section labelled “Immunity from anti-discrimination laws”) https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/jul/15/sandringham-estate-police-barred-investigating-wildlife-crime Senior… Read more »

Simon Cawdell
Reply to  Mark Bennet
25 days ago

Note the barb at the bottom the press release stating that it was an open competition, unlike that for the Archbishop’s Appointments Sec.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Simon Cawdell
25 days ago

Indeed. The post was advertised in the Church Times on 20 May 2022 (page 37) under the heading ‘Cabinet Office’ and may well have been advertised elsewhere. However, the description of the post (advertised at a salary of c.£93K) was ‘Director, Honours & Church Appointments’, “leading a directorate of approximately 35 staff,” and stating that the post-holder “will also liaise with faith communities and advise the PM and Cabinet Office on policy relating to matters of faith.” The advert added: “You will be delivery focused and a strong influencer with a deep understanding of the Church of England, its culture… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
19 days ago

Jonathan Hellewell looks very well equipped for this role, and I wish him well in it. But  what is the role today?  I have been privileged to work with three of the last five Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretaries. They all do it their own way and bring different perspectives. Each has brought a commitment to serve the Church, consistent with the role representing the Crown. But the role is not what it was.  A defining change for the CNC was the decision of Gordon Brown in 2007 to ask for only one name.  That gave the Church the decisive say in future nominations, by… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
19 days ago

But since 2007, the Downing Street function has become a postbox. That’s not to say Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretaries don’t add value, but with only one name the memorandum to the PM can’t say much more than that due process has been observed.  In the days before 2007, the prerogative existed (the Callaghan device when the CAC was created). The Church gave the Crown a choice (between two names), which gave the Secretary influence. He (for there has never been a woman) could advise the PM between the names.  For virtually every vacancy (I surmise) the CNC has always voted (on a… Read more »

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