Sadiq Khan promotes three young women to top team after four directors quit City Hall

·3 min read
<p>Sadiq Khan has rebuilt his top team at City Hall after a series of key departures</p> (Ross Lydall)

Sadiq Khan has rebuilt his top team at City Hall after a series of key departures

(Ross Lydall)

Sadiq Khan has rebuilt his top team at City Hall by promoting three dynamic young women after losing four of his most senior aides.

Mr Khan’s four mayoral directors – Paddy Hennessy, Leah Kreitzman, Nick Bowes and Jack Stenner - used the end of his first mayoral term to depart their £120,000-a-year jobs.

Today he appointed Ali Picton as mayoral director for operations, Sarah Brown as mayoral director for communications and Felicity Appleby as mayoral director for political and public affairs.

Each is in their thirties and renowned for their intelligence, political insight and loyalty to Mr Khan, who often emphasises the importance of having a close-knit group of advisers and building a “’Team London’ spirit”.

Ali Picton: promoted to mayoral director for operationsGLA
Ali Picton: promoted to mayoral director for operationsGLA

Ms Picton, 36, is arguably his closest aide, having worked in senior roles since 2012, first with him in Parliament and while he was Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, and latterly as head of his private office at City Hall. She was previously one of the Evening Standard’s 1,000 most influential Londoners.

Sarah Brown: mayoral director for communicationsGLA
Sarah Brown: mayoral director for communicationsGLA

Ms Brown, 33, has been his deputy communications director for about five years since moving to City Hall from the Labour party. She has accompanied Mr Khan on foreign trips and is trusted by journalists.

Felicity Appleby: mayoral director for political and public affairsGLA
Felicity Appleby: mayoral director for political and public affairsGLA

Ms Appleby also worked for Labour nationally before becoming part of Mr Khan’s first mayoral team. She will lead on liaison with Government and key stakeholders.

Richard Watts has been appointed deputy chief of staff and will stand down as leader of Islington council later this month. He will chair the mayor’s London Recovery Taskforce that aims to reboot the capital’s economy recovery as lockdown eases.

David Bellamy, Mr Khan’s highest paid aide on almost £140,000, remains chief of staff.

Mr Khan said all 10 deputy mayors, most of whom earn in excess of £132,000, would remain in place, including Heidi Alexander (transport) and Sophie Linden (policing and crime). Several re-appointments are subject to confirmatory hearings.

His six “special appointments” will also remain in post, including walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman and Lib Peck, director of his violence reduction unit.

Mr Khan said: “I am delighted to announce these key appointments to my top team. I look forward to working with them to deliver a better and brighter future for everyone who calls this amazing, diverse city home.”

Mr Hennessy told the Standard: “It’s been an immense privilege working for Sadiq as he led London through an extraordinary five years which have included some of the toughest times our city has ever faced.

“I’m going to miss him and our brilliant colleagues terribly but now is the right time for me to seek fresh challenges.”

Ms Kreitzman, who will join the PR agency Freuds as a partner in September after assisting with London’s hosting of the delayed Euros 2020 football tournament, tweeted: “It’s been the privilege of a lifetime working for Sadiq as mayor of the best city in the world.”

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Mr Bowes is to become chief executive of the Centre for London think-tank next month. He said he had been “privileged to work with an exceptional bunch of colleagues”.

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Mr Stenner, who left City Hall in March but returned to London to work on Mr Khan’s re-election campaign, has relocated to San Francisco, where his partner works as a UK diplomat.

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