Sir David Varney (born 1946) was the chairman of HM Revenue and Customs from its establishment in April 2005 to the end of August 2006. He was named as a recipient of a knighthood in the 2006 New Year’s honours list.

Private sector career

After graduating in Chemistry from the University of Surrey, where he was President of the Students Union, David Varney joined Shell in 1968. In 1990 he was appointed Head of Marketing, Branding and Product Development for Shell International Petroleum and in 1991 was appointed a Managing Director of Shell UK with responsibility for downstream activities. He was appointed a Director of Shell International Petroleum in 1996.

In June 1996 Varney joined BG (formerly British Gas), as Chief Executive designate of the proposed BG plc and was appointed Chief Executive the following year, overseeing the successful demerger of Lattice plc. He was Chairman of mobile phone operator mmO2 between 2001 and 2004. He was also Chairman of Business in the Community and is president of the Chartered Management Institute.

HM Revenue and Customs

HM Revenue and Customs was formed from the merger of the Inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise in April 2005. David Varney was appointed as the first executive chairman of the merged organisation having carried out that role in a shadow capacity from October 2004.

David Varney’s previous career as a private sector executive differs from the traditional career path of senior British civil service heads. On taking the role, Varney faced a number of key challenges including maintaining business-as-usual while delivering around 12,000 staff cuts under the Gershon Review and moving jobs out of the South-East of England under the Lyons Review.

Following the ending of his chairmanship of HM Revenue and Customs, David Varney took up a role at HM Treasury as a permanent secretary. In December 2006, he delivered the report “Service Transformation: a better service for citizens and businesses, a better deal for the taxpayer”[1], which aimed to improve the UK’s service performance in interacting with citizens and businesses.

Taken from Wikipedia.


  • 1946 Born 11 May in London
  • Educated Brockley County Grammar School and Surrey University
  • 1968 Personnel assistant, Shell Refining
  • 1971 Manager, East African Area, Shell International
  • 1974 Strategic planning manager, Shell Company of Australia
  • 1975 Islands manager, Shell South Pacific
  • 1979 Business development director, Shell Coal International
  • 1983 Area co-ordinator, Shell International Petroleum Company
  • 1987 Managing director, AB Svenska Shell, Sweden
  • 1990 Head of marketing, branding and product development, Shell International Petroleum Company
  • 1991 Managing director, Shell UK
  • 1996 Director, Shell International Petroleum Company
  • 1997 Chief executive, BG