By Duncan Mackay

Sir Jonathan Stephens was the most senior civil servant involved in London 2012 ©LinkedinSir Jonathan Stephens, the senior civil servant in charge of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, has been appointed to head the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), it was announced today. 

Sir Jonathan, 54, takes over as Permanent Secretary following his high-profile role in the Department for Media, Culture and Sport which organised the Games.

The Oxford University graduate led across Government on the successful delivery, on time and under budget, of London 2012, for which he was awarded a knighthood. 

Sir Jonathan has 15 years' experience in handling the complex and sensitive issues of Northern Ireland in two previous periods in senior roles within the NIO, a spokesman for the office said.

"I welcome this appointment at Permanent Secretary level, a change which reflects the importance the Prime Minister and I attach to the work the Government is doing to support the Northern Ireland Executive and to help build a peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland," said Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers.

"I look forward to working closely with Jonathan as we take that work forward."

The married father-of-two from London will replace Julian King, who is taking up the post of director general economic and consular at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office later this month. 

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]