Adventures with JB
Created by Katherine one year ago
I was James’ Private Secretary in the Home Office while he was Security Minister. He was extremely diligent, hard working and conscientious. I admit that I was often envious of other Private Secretaries; I considered them to have much easier jobs than me, since JB would read everything, question lots of things and determine to get to the bottom of every issue. From the big issues like the Olympic security issues and Abu Qatada deportation, to every single piece of correspondence, he would work through it meticulously. He worked just as hard for his constituency as for the department, describing his time working on those issues as “sacrosanct” and making sure that I and others in the office worked closely with his lovely constituency office.
He and I had many interesting visits together, from Brazil and India to many domestic visits. I remember once arriving at a police facility where a few hundred police were receiving training. This was a surprise to us but JB had no issue standing up and delivering a speech that sounded better than some of the ones we had prepared for him…! As well as working hard he was extremely intelligent and I was always impressed by how articulate he was even in difficult circumstances.
James and I later worked together again in MHCLG. He joked that I had followed him there - this was one of the few times I had to contradict him as I had got there first. He was just as he had been as a junior minister - polite, thoughtful and dedicated to doing the very best job he could.
When I heard that James was ill again I dropped him an email. I shouldn’t have been surprised to not just get a response within minutes, but a cheerful and personal one thanking me for my support and asking after some of the team we had worked with in the Home Office and MHCLG. I learnt a lot from James and I’m grateful for that. He’ll be missed by everyone he worked with.