Director-General Constitution and External Affairs

Ken Thomson



Postal address:
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Ken Thomson became Director-General for Constitution and External Affairs in July 2017.


The Director General for Constitution and External Affairs is focused on leading and supporting work across the Scottish Government on intergovernmental relations, EU exit, constitutional issues, and supporting Cabinet decision-making.

The Director-General Constitution and External Affairs is a member of the Scottish Government's Corporate Governance Board.


Ken was previously Director-General Strategy and Operations, and a member of the Executive Team and Executive Board.

Ken has led support for Ministers on constitutional policy since 2005, at times in combination with other policy areas, and prior to that was involved in work to prepare for devolution in 1997.

He was the lead official in negotiating the Edinburgh Agreement (2012), organising the referendum on independence for Scotland in 2014, and on changes to devolution since the referendum, including the Scotland Bill and the associated Fiscal Framework agreement in early 2016. He leads the teams supporting Ministers' response to the result of the June 2016 referendum on EU membership.

His other experience includes work on civil justice, human rights, public health, managing legislation, on secondment to the Scottish Prison Service and to the financial services sector, and on transport, natural heritage and economic development policy.

From 1997 to 1999 Ken was Principal Private Secretary to the Rt Hon Donald Dewar MP MSP, as Secretary of State for Scotland and then as First Minister of Scotland, having been private secretary to Scottish Office Ministers in the early 1990s.

Ken has degrees in music and business. His interests include negotiation, programme and project management and systems thinking and practice. Away from work, he cycles, plays music, does crosswords, and makes bread.

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