Peter Cardwell takes top SpAd post in Boris Johnson’s Ministry of Justice

Peter Cardwell
Peter Cardwell

Northern Ireland native Peter Cardwell has been appointed as a top adviser to the UK Justice Secretary.

Richhill man Peter, 35, started work for the newly-appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC MP, at the Ministry of Justice in Westminster on Monday.

Peter is a Special Adviser, a political counsellor within Government departments which members of the Cabinet personally appoint as their senior aides.

The Ministry of Justice, with over 70,000 civil servants, a budget of £6.5bn and areas of responsibility for prisons, the probation service and courts and tribunals throughout England and Wales, will ensure there is plenty for the Richhill man to sink his teeth into.

Speaking from London, Peter said: “It is a huge honour to be asked to advise Robert at the Ministry of Justice and I am very grateful to him and to Downing Street for appointing me. I am really looking forward to getting stuck into my new role.”

The Justice job is Peter’s fourth advisory role in the Conservative Government. Previously, Peter worked as Special Adviser to former NI Secretary James Brokenshire MP, both at the NIO and later when Mr Brokenshire was Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Last year, Mr Brokenshire returned to Government after a break of four months, having fully recovered from lung cancer. During this break, Peter briefly advised both former Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP and former Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley MP, before returning to his old boss’s side.

Mr Brokenshire left the Government in new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent reshuffle, but will continue to serve as a backbench MP.

“It was an absolute privilege to work for James Brokenshire,” said Peter. “James is an incredibly dedicated public servant who was a first-class Secretary of State in two Government departments. I will remain good friends with James and his lovely family, all of whom have shown me such kindness and hospitality.”

Peter, who lived in Richhill until he moved to England to go to Oxford University, still frequently visits his parents, Ken and Sandra Cardwell, and is a familiar face around the village despite spending most of his time in London.

Ken Cardwell is the retired principal of Tandragee Primary School, and Sandra Cardwell spent much of her career working for the then-Southern Education and Library Board in special education.

Peter went to Hardy Memorial Primary School in Richhill, Clounagh Junior High School in Portadown and Portadown College. At Oxford University, Peter studied history and politics, editing the student newspaper and winning the Philip Geddes Memorial Prize for the most promising student journalist at the University. He now chairs the Philip Geddes Trust.

His first job was as a researcher on Newsnight, working closely with presenter Jeremy Paxman in London, as well in Washington on the 2008 Presidential election. He studied for a Master’s degree in journalism at Columbia School of Journalism in New York, where he was Alastair Cooke Fulbright Scholar. Over the next 10 years he worked both in front and behind the camera at the BBC, Sky News, UTV and ITV’s Good Morning Britain, before James Brokenshire recruited him to the Conservative Party and Northern Ireland Office in the Summer of 2016.