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7 Andrew Kibblewhite

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The new Justice Secretary and Justice Chief Executive from February 2019, Andrew Kibblewhite has benefited from the sweeping changes undertaken at the top echelons of the Civil Service.

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Although not a lawyer (he holds a BSc and a BCA, as well as a Stanford University MBA, Kibblewhite nevertheless holds sway over the all-powerful Ministry of Justice. A powerful functionary he may be, operating the courts and tribunals and ruling over almost 4000 Justice employees, but even the Justice website is yet to place the Kibblewhite image into place, merely noting his role as Secretary for Justice and Chief Executive.

Very much regarding himself as an apoloitical figure, he wrote in 2016 that ‘F words’ like ‘free and frank’ were the key to providing top advice to government.

“I think deep, expert, apolitical advice matters more than ever for elected decision-makers in an increasingly messy, complex world,” he said.

The role of top advisers was to be honest and frank . . but not fruitless.

“Sometimes ministers rule out options in a way which makes it clear that it would be a waste of time raising them again.

“Sometimes the art of being a great policy advisor is all in the timing — knowing when the environment a minister is facing has changed substantially, and the previously unthinkable has now become the possible. Great advisors are savvy about the political context. Deciding when and how to give ministers challenging advice is one of the most difficult things officials have to do.”

Formerly head of the powerful Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), Kibblewhite replaces Andrew Bridgman, a List departure, who heads to Defence, and who took up his $610,000 job in February 2019

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