Appointments secretary leaves Brown

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The Prime Minister's appointments secretary is to leave Downing Street to be policy director for the Faith Foundation which is being set up by Tony Blair, sources have revealed.

William Chapman, who has helped draw up lists for appointing bishops and other figures to the House of Lords since 1999, is the latest senior figure to become part of an "exodus" of officials leaving No 10 under Gordon Brown. The resignation follows the departure of Spencer Livermore, the director of political strategy at No 10, who is joining the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi and Fallon.

It also comes after the departure of Tom Scholar, the Downing Street chief of staff, who has returned to the Treasury. Those moves followed the arrival of Stephen Carter, the former Ofcom head, who became head of strategy at No 10 in January.

Church of England sources have revealed that Mr Chapman yesterday sent an "operational note" to bishops and deans with whom he works, announcing that he would be leaving his job "as from tomorrow".

Meanwhile, political sources confirmed to The Independent that he will join as policy director of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which will be headed by Mr Blair's former adviser Ruth Turner and launched later this year. Downing Street was not set to announce the move until today or next week.

Mr Chapman's departure is believed to be "unrelated" to the arrival of Mr Carter, who is said to have "ruffled feathers" since arriving at No 10. In his note, Mr Chapman said he would continue to advise the Prime Minister on ecclesiastical affairs. Nonetheless, the fact that such an experienced civil servant is leaving to work for Mr Brown's predecessor will be seen as a blow to the Prime Minister – and a coup for Mr Blair.

Mr Chapman has been a civil servant since 1976, serving as private secretary to several ministers and speech writers to cabinet ministers before becoming private secretary at the Home Office and then eventually to the Prime Minister between 1991 to 1994.

The Faith Foundation will work with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. As part of his work with the foundation Mr Blair is due to teach a series of seminars at Yale on "faith and globalisation". Relations between Mr Blair and Mr Brown have in the past been strained.