Former Sheffield Hallam MP pays tribute following death of ex-civil service chief Sir Jeremy Heywood 

A former Sheffield MP has paid tribute to Sir Jeremy Heywood, the former head of the Civil Service who served four prime ministers, after his death at the age of 56.

Theresa May, David Cameron, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown all hailed the tireless work and support of the ex-cabinet secretary, who passed away on Sunday from cancer.

The announcement came just days after he had retired after decades as one of Whitehall's most senior mandarins in roles that led to him being regarded as a key behind-the-scenes influence in the shaping of modern Britain.

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Former Sheffield Hallam MP and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Heartbreaking news about Jeremy Heywood.

“I don’t think I ever met anyone who worked as hard and tirelessly in Government. A public servant in the very finest tradition of Whitehall.

former Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service Sir Jeremy Heywood who has died from cancer aged 56, Downing Street has said. Photograph: PA/PA Wire

former Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service Sir Jeremy Heywood who has died from cancer aged 56, Downing Street has said. Photograph: PA/PA Wire

“Through the five years I worked with him, he served the two sides of the Coalition with great loyalty and objectivity, which was not always easy.

“He is a huge loss to the integrity and professionalism of our civil service.”

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Sir Jeremy had been Cabinet Secretary since 2012 and previously served as principal private secretary to prime ministers Blair and Brown, chief of staff to Mr Brown and Downing Street permanent secretary to David Cameron.

He revealed earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with cancer in June 2017, but remained in post during a summer of political upheaval triggered by the shock general election result.

He took a leave of absence in June and announced on October 24 that he was stepping down, with acting Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill taking over the role on a permanent basis.

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Sir Jeremy was nominated for a peerage by Mrs May as Lord Heywood of Whitehall after his retirement in recognition of his distinguished service to public life.