Johnson critic Nick Timothy departs DfE board

Ex-Downing Street aide ends his term as a non-executive director nine months earlier

Ex-Downing Street aide ends his term as a non-executive director nine months earlier

Former government adviser Nick Timothy has resigned from the Department for Education’s board after repeated criticism of prime minister Boris Johnson.

The former Downing Street chief of staff was appointed as a non-executive director at the DfE in March 2020, while Sir Gavin Williamson was education secretary.

Board members normally serve three-year terms, but the department announced his departure today, around nine months early.

Timothy, a former director of the New Schools Network, has been a fierce critic of Johnson in recent months following the partygate revelations.

He told Schools Week that while the DfE was appointing a new round of directors, he had “taken the moment, having criticised the PM for his conduct, to leave the board myself”.

“I wish Nadhim, the ministerial team and department all the best in their vital work.”

The DfE said non-executive directors were “not directly employed by the department”, and are “appointed to the board and depart periodically”.

Timothy’s appointment in 2020 prompted criticism, in part because of his pro-grammar schools stance.

Schools Week also revealed that the appointment of Timothy, an ally of Williamson, had been made outside of the the usual recruitment procedures.

Correspondence we obtained showed Timothy was given the role before officials received his declaration of interests. His appointment was rushed through at the behest of Williamson, who served as chief whip during Timothy’s time in Downing Street.

A month later, Timothy was accused of breaching impartiality rules over tweets expressing partisan views and criticising opposition parties.

Timothy was vocal PM critic

Timothy’s recent criticism of Johnson’s conduct has been wide-ranging.

In his Telegraph column in April, Timothy wrote that there was “no chance of the PM doing the honourable thing” and called for him to go.

Also in April, during a television interview, he said: “The prime minister imposed laws on the country, he broke them personally and then it’s very difficult to avoid the conclusion that he misled the public and Parliament about having done so”.

On June 7, Timothy said Johnson “broke his own laws, lied about it, and now Tory MPs are catching up with the public and saying enough is enough”.

The DfE also announced today that Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith stood down after six years on the board in January, while Ian Ferguson stepped aside after two three year terms this month. Irene Lucas stood down in December after three years.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We thank all of them for their service and look forward to welcoming their successors.”

Replacing them on the board are private equity boss Stuart McMinnies, consulting firm chief Suzy Levy, TV executive Sir Peter Bazalgette, and former Academies Enterprise Trust chair Jack Boyer.

Non-executive directors get paid £15,000 annually for about 24 days’ work a year.

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