Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is considering recruiting senior civil servant Sue Gray to be his new chief of staff.
Best known for her report into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street, Ms Gray has built a fearsome reputation over decades at the heart of government.
A veteran investigator of ministerial misbehaviour, she currently runs the Union and Constitution Directorate at the Cabinet Office.
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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.”
Ms Gray is the daughter of Irish immigrants and her son Liam Conlon is the chair of Labour’s Irish Society.
The group was formerly led by the party’s director of communications Matthew Doyle.
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.
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Ms Gray’s appointment would echo Tony Blair’s recruitment of diplomat Jonathan Powell while Labour was in opposition in 1995.
Mr Powell later become Number 10’s first chief of staff and played a role in Northern Ireland peace talks ahead of the Good Friday Agreement.
A party source said: “[Sue Gray] knows how Number 10 works and she’s very popular with civil servants.”