A civil servant who led the delivery of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been appointed to head the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).
Sir Jonathan Stephens, 54, takes over as permanent secretary following his high-profile role in the Department for Media, Culture and Sport which organised the Games.
He has 15 years’ experience in handling the complex and sensitive issues of Northern Ireland in two previous periods in senior roles within the NIO, a spokesman for the office said.
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “I welcome this appointment at permanent secretary level, a change which reflects the importance the Prime Minister and I attach to the work the Government is doing to support the Northern Ireland Executive and to help build a peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland.
“I look forward to working closely with Jonathan as we take that work forward.”
The married father-of-two from London will replace Julian King, who is taking up the post of director general economic and consular at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office later in June.
The Prime Minister, with the agreement of Ms Villiers and in consultation with the Deputy Prime Minister, approved the appointment of Sir Jonathan.
The senior public official said: “Much has changed in the 14 years since I left. But continuing to help the people of Northern Ireland and their leaders make progress remains as vital as ever.”
Last year Sir Jonathan, who was educated at Oxford, was knighted for public services – particularly to the Games.
Over a civil service career spanning 30 years, Sir Jonathan has gained experience in frontline departments and the centre of government, particularly the Treasury and Cabinet Office, an NIO spokesman said.