The Constitution Unit


David Laughrin

David Laughrin

David Laughrin is a former Senior Civil Servant with varied experience across a range of government departments in both the UK and in Australia and New Zealand. Since 2007, he has been carrying out research, training and consultancy work for a variety of organisations, including Ashridge Business School, the Ministry of Defence and the former National School of Government, for whom he worked in the UK and in Bosnia and Abu Dhabi. He is a Fellow of the Ashridge Public Leadership Centre and is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

He has recently been researching decision making in business and government, Ministerial overload, the management of change, and the relevance of the armed services' "mission command" philosophy to public service leadership and delivery challenges. His training experience covers programmes on briefing Ministers, effective departmental correspondence, speech writing, leadership, implementing change and decision making.

After joining the then Civil Service Department (CSD) as a fast stream recruit in 1969, much of David's career was spent at the centre of government in the CSD and Cabinet Office dealing with civil service and human resource management reform issues. During a varied series of jobs both in the centre of government and in line departments such as Social Security (where he managed a local office) and Defence, he had two spells as a Private Secretary - first to a Minister (the then Kenneth Baker MP), and then to the then Permanent Secretary of the Civil Service Department and Head of the Home Civil Service (the late Lord Bancroft). He was Secretary of the Senior Appointments Selection Committee (SASC). He also spent time as Secretary to a Committee of Inquiry and Director of Policy and Administration Studies in the then Civil Service College. For two and a half years in the late 1980s he was seconded to the Australian and New Zealand Civil Services. His last ten years in the Civil Service were spent as a Senior Civil Servant in the Ministry of Defence (MOD) where he ended his career heading up what was then one of the largest departmental training organisations, within the Defence Academy. He also co-authored a report - Sustaining the Leading Edge - on senior leadership training in the MOD.

David is currently part of the team examining special advisers.


  • No Way to Run a Life Let Alone a Country, which appeared in Guardian Public in Autumn 2010
  • Searching for the X-Factors- A Review of Decision-Making in Government and Business which was published by the Whitehall and Industry Group and Ashridge Business School in October 2011.
  • Are They Being Served? and Swimming for Their Lives: Waving or Drowning? Ashridge Business School in Autumn 2008 and the Political Quarterly in Autumn 2009.
  • David has also written a learning guide for Ashridge Business School's Virtual Learning Resource Centre on working effectively for Ministers.