He started his career as a barrister, and joined the Home Office as a legal adviser in 1991. He then worked in legal teams across government, focussing particularly on criminal law, the constitution, and human rights law.
His recent legal and non-legal posts have been:
- Director of legal services at Department for Constitutional Affairs (now Ministry of Justice)
- Head of law and governance at Department for Work and Pensions
- Director General for pensions and ageing society, Department for Work and Pensions
He was ranked number 91 in the Pink List 2011. The citation said:
- "After stints in the Cabinet Office, Home Office and the Attorney General's office, Heaton became the most senior lawyer at the Department for Constitutional Affairs before joining the DWP. As the top lawyer for two large Whitehall departments, he is at the heart of delivering Government strategy."