Northern Ireland

New head of Department of Justice confirmed as Hugh Widdis

Outgoing Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly is moving to Education Authority

Department of Finance permanent secretary Hugh Widdis
New Department of Justice permanent secretary Hugh Widdis

Hugh Widdis has been confirmed as the new permanent secretary of the Department of Justice - replacing Richard Pengelly.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said Mr Widdis, who will take the new position on April 15, “has a proven track record and is well respected amongst his peers”.

Mr Widdis is currently Head of the Government Legal Service.

Mrs Long also thanked outgoing Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly for his contribution to justice in Northern Ireland.

“Richard has a long and esteemed civil service career which has seen him undertake his responsibilities with diligence and dedication. I have no doubt he will bring that same commitment to his new role,” she said.

Mr Pengelly will also take up his new post at the Education Authority (EA) from April 15, replacing outgoing CEO Sara Long, who is joining the Republic’s Health Service Executive as an executive officer for one of the newly established health regions.

Ms Long had been at the helm of the EA for five years before her departure was announced in January.

Mr Pengelly is the husband of Stormont’s Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly, and has been the permanent secretary at the Department of Justice since April 2022.