Rae Stewart has been appointed the new director of comms at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, with incumbent Arthur Leathley shifting to the Cabinet Office as director of cross-government communications.
Stewart is a former interim director of comms at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and has worked in government comms for five years following a 20-year career in TV journalism.
Stewart will lead on strategy for the department’s internal and external communications including campaigns, media, correspondence, stakeholder relationships, partnerships and digital.
In addition to Stewart’s appointment, Jacquie Wood is promoted from her role leading the stakeholder team to be interim deputy director of comms, working closely with the other deputy director and head of news Penny Fox.
Stewart said: “I’m looking at getting the entire team more focused on campaigning work, bringing all of the different strands of comms together so that they’re working on clearly defined and integrated programmes of activity which will be even more effective in helping the department achieve its objectives.”
Prior to joining Defra, Stewart worked at the Cabinet Office where he was press secretary to Nick Clegg for his first six months as Deputy Prime Minister. Stewart will be reporting to Angie Ridgwell, director-general for finance and corporate services.
Leathley suggested his new role as director of cross-government communications focused on pursuing professionalisation and resource- sharing.
He said: “The idea is we use the resources behind the government in the most efficient way and share resources between departments. But also to professionalise communications so we have the talent.
“There are lots of aspects to creating a profession within Whitehall so that we’re seen alongside the lawyers, the economists, the finance, the accounts, and that communications are seen at the top table.”
Leathley will report to Alex Aiken, executive director for Government communications.