Northern Ireland

Civil service chief asked to clarify David Gordon appointment

Commissioner for Public Appointments Judena Leslie
Image caption Judena Leslie has written to the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service over the appointment

Northern Ireland's top civil servant has been asked to clarify the process used to appoint a BBC journalist as the Executive's press secretary.

David Gordon, who was the editor of BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show, was appointed on Tuesday.

The announcement was made by the first and deputy first ministers.

Judena Leslie, the public appointments commissioner, said she had written to the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service over the appointment.

In a statement she said: "It is in the public interest that the principles of openness and transparency are adhered to."

A spokesperson for the executive said Mr Gordon was appointed as "a person providing specialist advice" in accordance with Civil Service Commissioners regulations.

"He is not a civil servant," said the spokesperson. "Mr Gordon is subject to many of the terms and conditions that normal civil servants are subject to, however he is not a Spad (special advisor).

"The role of the commissioner for public appointments relates only to appointments by Northern Ireland departments specific to public bodies and does not therefore have a role in relation to this appointment."

The Civil Service Commissioner's office said it had neither been informed of nor consulted about Mr Gordon's appointment, and had no comment on the matter.

Speaking to Radio Ulster's Evening Extra, a former public appointments commissioner said the process had to be "open and transparent".

"Nobody seems to know what's going on," said Felicity Houston.

"I don't think anybody knows and it does look like the first job for our executive press secretary will be to explain all this."

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