The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) has appointed former BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith as its director of communications.
News of Sixsmith’s appointment comes a week after the DTLR announced it is drawing up its own roster of creative and media agencies, independent of COI Communications (MW October 22).
The review is being overseen by the DTLR’s director of marketing and corporate communications, Charles Skinner, who is acting director of communications. Skinner will now report to Sixsmith, who in turn reports directly to Secretary of State Stephen Byers.
Sixsmith replaces Alun Evans, who left the post in September. Reports have claimed that Evans was forced out of his job by disgraced spin doctor Jo Moore after he refused to take part in a smear campaign against Bob Kiley, the London transport chief appointed by Ken Livingstone. Evans is now heading the secretariat for the inquiry into foot and mouth disease.
Sixsmith, who was most recently director of external communications at Marconi, is no stranger to Whitehall, having worked as director of communications for the Department of Social Security between 1997 and 1999.
He joined the BBC as a trainee in 1980 and worked as a news correspondent in various postings between 1982 and 1997, including stints in Brussels, Moscow and Washington.
The DTLR hit the headlines last month when it emerged that Moore – at the time Byers’ special adviser – e-mailed colleagues saying it was a good time to “bury bad news”, less than one hour after the September 11 attacks.