The Intimacy of Power: Whitehall’s Most Sensitive Network – BOOK LAUNCH

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Date / time: 17 June, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Peston Lecture Theatre, Graduate Centre

The Intimacy of Power: Whitehall's Most Sensitive Network - BOOK LAUNCH


Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes in the corridors of power during a major crisis or after a ministerial reshuffle? How do new government ministers get to grips with their portfolios and priorities? Who guides and supports them? And why, sometimes, do things go wrong?

In his new book – based on research conducted for a PhD at Queen Mary – former senior civil servant Alun Evans lifts the lid on a vital but little-known cog in the machinery of government: private office and the private secretaries who work within it. Drawing on exceptional access to former Prime Ministers and decision-makers, Evans explores what private office is, why it matters to British democracy and how it might be deployed in future.

Join the Mile End Institute on Monday 17 June to hear from Alun, Whitehall insiders and constitutional experts about the past, present and future of Whitehall’s most sensitive network.


Alun Evans was a civil servant for more than thirty years, working in a range of government departments including No.10 Downing Street. He was Head of the UK Government’s Scotland Office during the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, and from 2015-2019 was Chief Executive of the British Academy. Since completing his PhD at Queen Mary University of London, he has been a writer and a political consultant.

James Ellison is Reader in International History at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of The United States, Britain and the Transatlantic Crisis: Rising to the Gaullist Challenge and Threatening Europe: Britain and the Creation of the European Community. He was Alun Evans’ PhD supervisor during the research for this book.

Dr Cath Haddon is Programme Director at the Institute for Government, and an expert commentator on the role of ministers, the constitution, Number 10 and the Cabinet Office. She has provided expertise for a range of media outlets and tweets at @cath_haddon.

Andrew Turnbull (Lord Turnbull) joined the Civil Service in 1970, serving as Principal Private Secretary to Margaret Thatcher and John Major from 1988 to 1992 and as Cabinet Secretary from 2002 to 2005. As a former Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, he has also expressed strong views on the powers of the prime minister and the role of the Civil Service in good government.

This event will start at 6.30pm in the Peston Lecture Theatre in the Graduate Centre at Queen Mary’s Mile End campus. You can find it on What3Words at: Doors will open at 6.10pm and the event will be followed by a reception which all attendees are welcome to attend.

For more information and to register, please visit: