Government spin chief moved aside but still keeps £140,000-a-year job

·2-min read
Alex Aiken is understood to have applied for the chief executive job, but was beaten to it by Simon Baugh, another civil servant
Alex Aiken is understood to have applied for the chief executive job, but was beaten to it by Simon Baugh, another civil servant

The head of the Government’s spin operation is being retained in his £140,000-a-year job, despite being replaced by a new boss on the same salary.

Alex Aiken, the executive director of the Government Communication Service (GCS), has been ousted as the man in charge by a “chief executive”, a newly created post that will be filled by Simon Baugh, another civil servant.

It comes despite government efforts to reduce the headcount of the 4,500-strong service, which was last week criticised by Lee Cain, Boris Johnson’s former director of communications. He called for a drastic reduction in staff numbers.

A source said: “Nobody ever actually gets sacked as a civil servant. They just keep the salary. It’s a disgrace and an utter waste of taxpayer’s money. The GCS is supposed to be in the process of being cut down to size in an internal Cabinet Office project called Reshaping GCS, led by Moorhouse Consulting.”

Mr Aiken is understood to have applied for the chief executive job, but was beaten to it by Mr Baugh, the director of communications at the Home Office.

Simon Baugh was named as the new ‘chief executive’ of the Government Communication Service - PjrNews/Alamy Stock Photo
Simon Baugh was named as the new ‘chief executive’ of the Government Communication Service - PjrNews/Alamy Stock Photo

Announcing the move last week, Alex Chisholm, permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, said he was “pleased” to confirm Mr Aiken would continue in his role as executive director, and as a senior leader in the GCS, supporting the the new chief executive.

“Alex will be leading the Government’s vital communications work on priority areas that include the Union, security and international issues,” he added.

One insider commented: “The new job title was just an excuse to oust Aiken – except he’s still hanging on by his fingertips.”

As a former Conservative aide, Mr Aiken was famously pictured taking on a Daily Mirror reporter dressed as a chicken following John Major on the election stump in 1997. The reporter was Mr Cain, who went on to become Mr Johnson’s director of communications in Number 10.

In his article last week, Mr Cain said that despite employing more than 4,000 communications staff across the Government, many departmental press offices were “unable to conduct the most basic functions”.

Another source said: “The position isn’t necessarily tenable. The older guy says he will stay on to ensure a smooth transition then some months after says ‘goodbye’.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the new chief executive post was designed to “strengthen” leadership capabilities, adding: “Alex Aiken will continue to serve as an executive director, tackling priority issues in government communications.”

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