THE Scottish Government’s new permanent secretary has been appointed by the First Minister in agreement with UK Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.

John-Paul Marks will take over from Leslie Evans as head of the civil service in Scotland from January 5.

Marks is currently director-general of work and health services at the Department for Work and Pensions. He was chosen for the permanent secretary role following open competition.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had been “grateful” to Evans for her work over nearly seven years.

READ MORE: Recruitment to begin for Leslie Evans's replacement in top civil service job

“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," Sturgeon said.

“I am delighted to agree the appointment of John-Paul Marks as permanent secretary to the Scottish Government. JP 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.”

It was previously reported that Evans would finish up as permanent secretary in March 2022.

She has been criticised for her role in the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints against former first minister Alex Salmond.

The Court of Session ruled that the Government’s actions had been “unlawful”, and ministers had to pay out £512,250.

Last year, speaking to the Scottish Parliament committee investigating the situation, she apologised for a “procedural failure” in the handling of the allegations.

The National:

Marks, a former operations director on the Universal Credit programme, welcomed his appointment today.  

“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,” he said.

“I would like to thank all the teams at the Department for Work & 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's depute leader Kenny MacAskill MP expressed anger over the decision to appoint Marks.

“The Scottish Government having invited onboard as an adviser 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," he commented. 

"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."