Britain’s former top civil servant, Mark Sedwill, is joining investment bank Rothschild & Co, the first significant private sector appointment since his controversial departure from Whitehall earlier this year.
Lord Sedwill stepped down from his dual role as cabinet secretary and national security adviser in September after losing a power battle with Dominic Cummings, prime minister Boris Johnson’s former senior adviser.
His departure followed months of tension within Downing Street over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the future of the civil service.
Lord Sedwill, who declined to comment, will join Rothschild’s London office as a senior adviser in a part-time role in January.
Robert Leitao, Rothschild’s co-chairman, said: “Mark will work with group senior management in advising on our global strategic ambitions as well as helping to advise our core clients across global advisory, merchant banking and wealth and asset management.”
The appointment was approved by the UK’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which requires former ministers and senior civil servants to secure clearance before taking a job in the private sector for two years after leaving government to lower the potential of privileged information being used for personal gain.
Acoba gave the green light on the condition that Lord Sedwill does not become personally involved in lobbying the UK government or advise on any policy areas in which he had direct involvement as a civil servant for the two-year period following his departure from Whitehall.
In his application to the watchdog, Lord Sedwill said the role would include “hosting occasional dinners and events aimed at the promotion of [Rothschild’s] business”. The bank did not disclose how much he would be paid.
Lord Sedwill becomes the latest in a long line of politicians and government officials with links to the Anglo-French advisory boutique that dates back to 1811.
Conservative politicians Jacob Rees-Mogg, Norman Lamont, John Redwood, Oliver Letwin and John Whittingdale all worked for the investment bank before entering parliament. Mr Letwin was forced to give up his £100,000 a year advisory role at the bank after he became shadow chancellor in 2003.
The bank has previously hired as directors two senior officials who worked for Margaret Thatcher: Robert Armstrong, the former UK prime minister’s cabinet secretary and Clive Whitmore, her principal private secretary.
Sajid Javid, the former chancellor, who quit in February, joined JPMorgan’s European advisory council in August.
Lord Sedwill was forced out of his job as head of the civil service in the summer after a bitter power struggle in Downing Street, before taking up a peerage in September.
He had balanced the job with the role of national security adviser — another hugely important role — during one of the most difficult periods in modern British history.
Some members of Mr Johnson’s team in Number 10 saw him as a loyalist to the prime minister’s predecessor Theresa May, who first promoted him to security adviser in 2017 and then simultaneously to permanent secretary in 2018. He had previously served her as the top civil servant at the Home Office when she was home secretary.
Lord Sedwill has been asked by Mr Johnson to lead a panel on “global economic security” during Britain’s presidency of the G7 in 2021.
He has no other financial interests currently declared in the House of Lords register of interests.
A career diplomat, Lord Sedwill’s previous roles include Nato representative in Afghanistan, ambassador to Kabul, deputy high commissioner to Pakistan and United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.
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