Simon McDonald, Baron McDonald of Salford

(Redirected from Baron McDonald of Salford)

Simon Gerard McDonald, Baron McDonald of Salford, GCMG, KCVO (born 9 March 1961) is a British former diplomat who was the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service until September 2020. He was the last professional head of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. He has been the Master of Christ's College, Cambridge, since September 2022.

The Lord McDonald of Salford
Official portrait, 2021
Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Head of HM Diplomatic Service
In office
September 2015 – September 2020
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Boris Johnson
Sec. of StatePhilip Hammond
Boris Johnson
Jeremy Hunt
Dominic Raab
Preceded bySir Simon Fraser
Succeeded bySir Philip Barton[a]
British Ambassador to Germany
In office
MonarchElizabeth II
PresidentChristian Wulff
Joachim Gauck
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
ChancellorAngela Merkel
Preceded bySir Michael Arthur
Succeeded bySir Sebastian Wood
British Ambassador to Israel
In office
MonarchElizabeth II
PresidentMoshe Katzav
British Prime MinisterTony Blair
Israeli Prime MinisterSharon, Olmert
Preceded bySir Sherard Cowper-Coles
Succeeded bySir Tom Phillips
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
11 February 2021
Life peerage
Personal details
Born (1961-03-09) 9 March 1961 (age 62)
Salford, England
Political partyNone (crossbencher)
SpouseOlivia Wright
Children4 (2 sons, 2 daughters)
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge
Awards Life peer

In July 2022 McDonald wrote a letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards stating that denials of previous allegations against Chris Pincher by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson were untrue.[1] The letter was described as an "extraordinary, devastating intervention", and was followed by resignations of senior cabinet ministers, ultimately leading to Johnson's announcement of his resignation on 7 July 2022.[2]

Early life and education Edit

McDonald was born on 9 March 1961 in Salford, Lancashire.[3][4] He was educated at De La Salle College, a direct grant grammar school in Salford.[3] He then studied history at Pembroke College, Cambridge, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. He thereafter gained a Master of Arts degree.[3][5]

Career Edit

Diplomatic career Edit

McDonald joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1982 and served in Jeddah, Riyadh, Bonn and Washington, D.C. as well as in London. He was Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary 2001–03; Ambassador to Israel 2003–06; Director for Iraq at the FCO 2006–07; Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister and Head of the Overseas and Defence Secretariat at the Cabinet Office 2007–10; and was appointed Ambassador to Germany in October 2010.[6][7]

McDonald welcomes the newly-appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson, to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London on 13 July 2016.

In September 2015, McDonald became Permanent Under-Secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service, replacing Sir Simon Fraser.[8][9][10] As of 2015, McDonald was paid a salary between £180,000 and £184,999 by the Foreign Office.[11]

Prior to the referendum to the leave the European Union, McDonald considered a referendum for Brexit to be "highly theoretical, as well as deeply problematic" and admitted to be fearful of a vote to leave. He was quoted on the morning of the referendum itself, "I really fear today our country is going to vote to leave the European Union".[12] He also revealed his office to be in "mourning" after the vote but stressed the importance of abiding by civil service impartiality in implementing the referendum result. [13]

In April 2020, McDonald stated to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that it was a political decision to opt out of an EU scheme to bulk-buy ventilators and protective equipment for NHS workers to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The comments raised concerns that ministers had put Brexit ahead of responding to the public health crisis.[14] Following comments, Matt Hancock used Downing Street's daily press briefing to state that as far as he knew, there had been no political decision not to participate.[15] McDonald subsequently wrote to the committee chairman, Tom Tugendhat MP, stating that he had "inadvertently and wrongly" misinformed the committee "due to a misunderstanding".[15]

In June 2020, it was announced that McDonald would take early retirement in autumn 2020. The move stemmed from merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with the Department for International Development. Boris Johnson wanted a new leader of the combined department.[16]

House of Lords Edit

McDonald was nominated for a life peerage in the 2020 Political Honours.[17] On 27 January 2021, he was created Baron McDonald of Salford, of Pendleton in the City of Salford. He made his maiden speech on 2 March 2021.[5] He sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher.[18]

Academic career Edit

On 23 November 2021, McDonald was announced as Master-elect of Christ's College, Cambridge in succession to Jane Stapleton.[4] His term of office began on 1 September 2022.[4]

Dominic Raab Edit

In April 2023 McDonald said he had to warn Dominic Raab “more than once” about his conduct as foreign secretary. McDonald said Raab was a “tough taskmaster” whose “methods did not help him to achieve what he wanted to do”. McDonald claimed Raab did not listen to the issues raised with him, adding: “He disputed it. He disputed the characterisation.” [19]

Chris Pincher Edit

Following the resignation of Deputy Chief Whip (Chris Pincher / Chris Pincher scandal) over an incident of sexual groping, McDonald wrote in July 2022 to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards on previous official complaints made against Pincher,[20] stating that the claim there had been no previous official complaints against Pincher was untrue.[21] A Guardian editorial described the letter as an "extraordinary, devastating intervention", which convinced Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, and many others to resign from Boris Johnson's government from 5 July 2022.[22][23]

Honours Edit

McDonald was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2004 New Year Honours[24] and Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to British foreign policy and British interests in Germany.[25][26] He was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) during the Queen's state visit to Germany in June 2015.[27] He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to British foreign policy.[28]

Family Edit

In 1989 Simon McDonald married Olivia, daughter of Sir Patrick Wright, later Baron Wright of Richmond, who had also been Permanent Under-Secretary at the FCO (1986–1991). Simon and Olivia have two sons and two daughters.[6]

Notes Edit

  1. ^ as Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

References Edit

  1. ^ "Chris Pincher: Lord McDonald's letter in full". BBC News. 5 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  2. ^ "Boris Johnson to stand down as Tory leader after wave of resignations". BBC News. 7 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "McDonald of Salford, Baron, (Simon Gerard McDonald) (born 9 March 1961)". Who's Who 2022. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2021. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  4. ^ a b c "Christ's College elects new Master". Christs College. University of Cambridge. 23 November 2021. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  5. ^ a b Lord McDonald of Salford (2 March 2021). "Economic Partnership Agreement: Kenya". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Vol. 810. United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 1122–1123.
  6. ^ a b McDONALD, Simon Gerard, Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press Dec 2013
  7. ^ Simon McDonald CMG, British Ambassador to Germany,
  8. ^ "Appointment of new Permanent Under Secretary to the FCO". Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 29 July 2015.
  9. ^ Fraser, Simon (29 July 2015). "Simon Fraser on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 31 July 2015. Many congrats to @SMcDonaldFCO on his appointment as my successor @foreignoffice. Great choice.
  10. ^ Parker, George (31 July 2015). "Top Foreign Office mandarin cautions on hollowing out UK diplomacy". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Senior officials 'high earners' salaries as at 30 September 2015 - GOV.UK". 17 December 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Wintour, Patrick; Boffey, Daniel (21 April 2020). "Matt Hancock forced to deny 'political' opt-out from EU ventilators". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Top civil servant 'wrong' about EU equipment claim". BBC News. 21 April 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Foreign Office boss Sir Simon McDonald to step down early after department merger plan". Sky News. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  17. ^ "Political Peerages 2020".
  18. ^ "Lord McDonald of Salford: Parliamentary career". MPs and Lords. UK Parliament. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  19. ^ Ex-mandarin warned Dominic Raab about conduct ‘more than once’
  20. ^ "Simon McDonald: ex-top civil servant who accuses No 10 of misleading public". the Guardian. 5 July 2022.
  21. ^ "Chris Pincher: Lord McDonald's letter in full". 5 July 2022 – via (Letter:) This is not true.
  22. ^ Editorial (6 July 2022). "The Guardian view on the cabinet resignations: endgame for Boris Johnson". The Guardian.
  23. ^ Mason, Rowena (6 July 2022). "The Tory MPs who have quit Boris Johnson's government – listed". The Guardian. 32 names as of 16:30 6 July 2022. New names added as available.
  24. ^ "No. 57155". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2003. p. 3.
  25. ^ "No. 60895". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2014. p. b4.
  26. ^ "Birthday Honours lists 2014". Honours. HM Government. 14 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  27. ^ "No. 2360003". The London Gazette. 30 June 2015. p. 2742.
  28. ^ "No. 63377". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2021. p. B4.
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Principal Private Secretary
to the Foreign Secretary

Succeeded by
British Ambassador to Israel
Succeeded by
Preceded by British Ambassador to Germany
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Permanent Under-Secretary at the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Master of Christ's College, University of Cambridge
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron McDonald of Salford
Followed by
The Lord Cruddas