A TOP UK Government official has been named the new Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government – replacing the outgoing Leslie Evans.

John Paul Marks will take up the permanent secretary job from January 5, 2022 with Ms Evans leaving on December 31 after almost seven years in post.

Mr Marks joins the Scottish Government from the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) where he was director general for work and health services.

This appointment has been made by the UK Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, with the agreement of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Mr Marks will succeed Leslie Evans, who is leaving the civil service as planned upon completion of her almost-seven year term.

As chief official policy adviser, the permanent secretary works closely with the First Minister including major strategic and policy issues and is secretary to the Scottish Cabinet.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am grateful to Leslie Evans for her leadership of the civil service for almost the past seven years.

“The expertise and insight that Leslie has applied in leading the organisation through the notable and significant challenges of our day – such as EU Exit and the Covid-19 pandemic – has been admirable. I join with so many across the Scottish public sector and beyond in wishing Leslie every success for the chapter ahead.”

She added: “I am delighted to agree the appointment of John Paul Marks as permanent secretary to the Scottish Government.

“John Paul brings a wealth of experience to this senior leadership role from his career in the civil service working across a range of policy and delivery priorities.

“I look forward to working with him over the years ahead as we recover from Covid-19 and deliver on the Government’s ambition to build a fairer, greener Scotland.”

Mr Marks said: “I am delighted to take up the role of permanent secretary to the Scottish Government.

“I am grateful to the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for this exciting opportunity. I would like to thank all the teams at the Department for Work and Pensions for their support and public service over the years.

“I look forward to joining the team in Scotland in the New Year as we do our very best for Scotland in these important years ahead.”

Alba party depute leader, Kenny MacAskill, said:  “The Scottish Government having invited onboard as an advisor the arch defender of the Union in Sir Nick MacPherson, have now compounded that decision by installing as permanent secretary a man who has been overseeing the institutionalised cruelty that is our benefits system.

"When many Scots on Universal Credit are finding themselves impoverished, it’s absurd that the Scottish Government is appointing the head of the department responsible for so much pain and heartache. “