Sir Keir Starmer is considering appointing Sue Gray to be his new chief of staff.
The senior civil servant is best known for conducting a report into the lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street, but she was described as ‘the most powerful person you’ve never heard of’ before that by the BBC.
Chris Cook, who was policy editor at Newsnight at the time, said Gray’s influence “is astounding” in the piece because she effectively decides which documents may or may not be published.
“Even when a document trail exists, Gray is enthusiastic about keeping it a secret. We know that she advised special advisers on how to destroy email… to thwart FOIA requesters”, he said.
According to Sky News reports, Starmer is considering appointing the veteran investigator of ministerial misbehaviour as his next chief of staff.
She currently runs the Union and Constitution Directorate at the Cabinet Office.
When approached by Sky News, Ms Gray declined to comment and said she would get her press office to respond.
A Labour spokesperson said: “The process is ongoing. Nobody has been offered the job.”
Sir Keir’s search follows his dismissal of Sam White who served in the role for a year but was unpopular with some of the shadow cabinet.
Allies of the Labour leader say that due to the relative inexperience of his team, a candidate who understands how to operate at the top level of government is essential.
Gray’s appointment would echo Tony Blair’s recruitment of diplomat Jonathan Powell while Labour was in opposition in 1995.
Related: PM faces calls to explain why Scotland cannot receive same ‘special’ EU access