COVID culture tsar Mendoza lined up to head Historic England

A Conservative peer who played a key role in establishing the Culture Recovery Fund during the ravages of the pandemic is being lined up as the next chair of Historic England.

Sky News has learnt Lord Mendoza, the provost of Oriel College, Oxford, is expected to be unveiled in the post in the coming weeks.

Lord Mendoza was nominated by Boris Johnson, the then prime minister, for a life peerage in August 2020.

He has held a string of government-appointed roles, including sitting on the board of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and serving as commissioner for cultural recovery and renewal.

A former businessman, Lord Mendoza has also had a previous stint as commissioner of Historic England, whose responsibilities include managing the National Heritage List for England, which comprises more than 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to battlefields.

He is said to have been instrumental in setting up the £1.57bn fund aimed at preserving the heritage sector’s future during protracted periods of lockdown and social distancing.

If confirmed, Lord Mendoza would be the latest in a string of senior figures with close links to the government to be appointed to prestigious roles at quangos and other public bodies.

The current Historic England chair is Sir Laurie Magnus, who is also the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests.

A DCMS spokesperson said on Monday: “Historic England plays an important role protecting the country’s national heritage.

“We will shortly announce a new chair.”

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