Katie Perrior, who quit as Downing Street communications director in April, earned less than successor and predecessor. Ministers are not serious about the gender pay gap, equality campaigners have said, after it emerged that the only female Downing Street communications director since 2010 was paid £15,000 less than men for the same role.
A Cabinet Office list of salaries for special advisers and other senior appointees in government released on Friday showed Robbie Gibb, the former BBC journalist hired to the role in July, makes £140,000 a year.
This contrasts with the £125,000 salary of Katie Perrior, who took the same job in 2016 but quit two months before the election in June, later saying she found Theresa May’s then chiefs of staff, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, “rude, abusive and childish” in their approach.
The other two holders of the role since the 2010 election, both men, were also paid £140,000, earlier records of pay for political appointees show.
Andy Coulson took the job after David Cameron became prime minister, but quit in 2011 when he became embroiled in the legal fallout of phone-hacking cases at the News of the World, which he had previously edited.
For the rest of Cameron’s time in No 10, the role, which is primarily strategic and involves less day-to-day contact with reporters, was held by another former BBC employee, Craig Oliver.
In October, May launched a fresh push to tackle the gender pay gap, saying more companies should publish details of the differentials in pay between male and female staff, including smaller businesses.
May also obliged the BBC to reveal the salaries of top earners, which showed significant discrepancies between male and female employees.
Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality party, said the lower pay awarded to Perrior for doing the same job was “proof that the government is not serious about tackling the gender pay gap and the imbalance of power between men and women”.
“You couldn’t make it up. Having pressed the BBC to publish its own pay gap, Theresa May has now imported that inequality into Downing Street,” she said.
“The prioritisation of men at the cost of women is mirrored in the prime minister’s ongoing support for Damian Green, who continues to be at her right hand despite being investigated for sexual harassment.
“Companies told that they must publish their own pay gap before April will be looking at the government today and think ‘why bother?’”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We strive to set pay at appropriate levels and it is based on a range of factors, including the recipients’ previous salary.”
Across all current political appointees, women were paid on average 1.6% more than men overall, he said.
The figures show Gibb is at the top level of political appointees, making the same as May’s chief of staff, the former Conservative MP Gavin Barwell.
A similar list published at the end of 2016 showed Perrior was the fourth-highest-earning political appointee at Downing Street. Hill and Timothy both earned £140,000, as did May’s then director of policy, John Godfrey.