Home Office civil service chief quits to lead National Trust

DAME Helen Ghosh, the top-ranking civil servant at the Home Office, yesterday quit to become director general of the National Trust.

“I have been privileged to lead the Home Office and feel very torn about leaving,” she said.

Several permanent secretaries have left Whitehall in recent months, raising the prospect of civil service instability at a time when the government is trying to push through major reforms.

“I will be doing my utmost over the next few weeks to ensure that the Home Secretary and her ministers have all the support they need in this period so that the department is in the best possible shape for the future, Ghosh said.

Home Secretary Theresa May praised Ghosh’s contribution: “I am very grateful to Helen for her support, wise counsel and outstanding leadership of the Home Office during an extremely busy period for the department.”

Ghosh has spent 33 years in the civil service and has never worked full-time in the heritage industry. She will take over the National Trust, one of the largest membership organisations in the country, from Dame Fiona Reynolds, who is leaving to become master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.