Sir Joseph Pilling’s career as a British civil servant was spent in the Home Office, Department of Health and the Northern Ireland Office. His posts included a short period as Director General of the Prison Service and eight years as Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office. Early in his career he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship and divided his time in the USA between Harvard and Berkeley.
Since leaving the civil service in 2005 he has conducted or chaired a number of reviews covering, for example, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Government’s Official History Programme, Identity Cards and, for the Church of England, Human Sexuality. He spent three years on the Council of London University. In 2016 he is reviewing the independence and effectiveness of the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
He and his wife live in North Yorkshire and London and have two sons and six grandchildren.