Exclusive: Senior civil servant quits Government to become top Premier League executive

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Tom Morgan
·2 min read
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The Nike Flight Hi-Vis Premier League match balls are seen prior to the Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa  - GETTY IMAGES
The Nike Flight Hi-Vis Premier League match balls are seen prior to the Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa - GETTY IMAGES

One of Britain's most senior civil servants has quit Government to become a top executive at the Premier League, Telegraph Sport can disclose.

Helen MacNamara, who led the bullying inquiry into Home Secretary Priti Patel, will effectively replace Bill Bush, who steps down into an advisory role after 15 years.

The Cabinet Office confirmed MacNamara has stood down as deputy cabinet secretary, and sources say she will become director of policy and corporate affairs at England's top tier.

Insiders see the hire as a major coup for the league following a year in which relations with Whitehall have been put to the test by the pandemic and tortuous negotiations with the EFL over a bail-out.

With that issue now resolved, MacNamara will play a key role in relations with Government as well as cementing the Premier League's standing on a global level.

MacNamara spent the last three years at the Cabinet Office, as director general of propriety and ethics, before being promoted to Deputy Cabinet Secretary in March 2020.

Boris Johnson led tributes to the service she had given Government as her departure was confirmed. “I would like to congratulate Helen on her tremendous public service over the last two decades," the Primer Minister said. "I am hugely grateful for her support during my time in office and I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”

MacNamara, meanwhile, said it had been an "absolute honour to have served as a civil servant over the last two decades",

MacNamara conducted an inquiry into the home secretary after former staff from three different government departments claimed that Patel had been guilty of mistreating staff. Her inquiry interviewed former staff from the Department for Work and Pensions, where Patel worked as an employment minister in 2015, and the Department for International Development where Patel was secretary of state in 2017.

As a result, standards chief Sir Alex Allan found that Patel had broken the code governing ministers' behaviour. However, the PM rejected his findings, saying he did not think Patel was a bully and had "full confidence" in her.

Bush, who will remain as an advisor long-term, will help ease her into the new job at world's most lucrative domestic competition. Bush joined the league in 2005 also after a stint in Government, at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. MacNamara will join later this year. The Premier League later confirmed the appointment.