Fiona Hill

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PM Theresa May with SpAd Fiona Hill
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Fiona Hill (formerly Cunningham) is a former joint chief of staff to the British prime minister Theresa May. [1] She resigned her role after May's disastrous election result in June 2017.

Hill, a former Sky News journalist, previously worked as special adviser to May in her roles as secretary of state at the UK Home Office and minister for women and equality.[2]

After being forced to resign in 2014 Hill later did a stint with lobbying firm Lexington Communications until she was reappointed by Theresa May in July 2016.

Background

Originally a press officer for shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, Cunningham left her role at the Conservative Party to join business lobbyists the British Chambers of Commerce in June 2008. She returned to the Conservatives in March 2009 after less than a year in her previous role. According to Conservative media adviser Henry Macrory, 'She couldn’t keep away".[3]

Controversy

Hill lost her job as May's special adviser as part of the fallout over the Cabinet's 'very ugly public feud' about an alleged 'Trojan Horse' plot to Islamicise secular state schools in Birmingham, widely believed to be a hoax.

She was found to be 'the source of an acidic briefing' against education minister Michael Gove. Gove had briefed The Times newspaper — as an anonymous "source" — over the alleged plot and had accused the Home Office of failing to “drain the swamp” of extremists and criticised Charles Farr, Theresa May’s counter-terrorism adviser, who was reportedly in a relationship with Hill. [4]

Hill's reappointment in July 2016 as the newly appointed prime minister Theresa May's chief co-adviser alongside Nick Timothy was similarly beset by controversy. The two special advisers immediately stood down after May's 2017 election campaign resulted in the first Conservative minority government in decades.

Ignored ACOBA rules

After leaving the home office, Hill took up a lobbying role with Lexington Communications in 2015 without informing the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which scrutinises moves from Whitehall to the private sector for potential conflict of interests.

Once it was revealed Hill had failed to follow proper procedure, the government changed ACOBA's rules to exempt all special advisers and political aides from needing to apply for approval when taking up a role outside of government.

Tamasin Cave, of Spinwatch, said of the development:

'The contempt she [Hill] has shown for the rules is supportive of a culture in Westminster and Whitehall that sees trading insider knowledge as routine.’ [5]

Affiliations

Contact, Resources, Notes

Contact

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cunnersf (not used since 2010?)

Notes

  1. Rowena Mason, May appoints former advisers as joint chiefs of staff, The Guardian, 15 July 2016, accessed 8 December 2016.
  2. Department of Information Services, "Parliamentary Information List", accessed 7 September 2010
  3. David Singleton,Tories' Grayling gets press chief, PR Week UK, 10 March 2009, accessed 12.09.10
  4. Andrew Pierce,The discreet affair between two of the Home Secretary's closest advisers which may be the REAL reason for her bitter split with Cabinet colleague Michael Gove over Islamic plot to take over schools, Daily Mail, 5 June 2014
  5. Mario Ledwith, New loophole helps ministers’ aides to pick up cushy jobs: Government rule changes allow dozens of special advisers to be exempt from conflict of interest checks, The Daily Mail, 2 August 2016, accessed 9 January 2017.