LONDON — The British authorities is mulling “next steps” in its inquiry into Sue Gray, the previous senior civil servant who raised eyebrows by leaving Whitehall to take up a high job with the Labour opposition.
Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden instructed MPs Tuesday he was “unable at this stage to provide further information relating to the departure of Ms Gray whilst we consider next steps.” The inquiry into her controversial exit had, the Guardian reported Tuesday evening, been paused following “intense negotiations” between ministers and Simon Case, who heads up the civil service.
Tuesday’s comparatively sparse replace from Dowden got here regardless of earlier media reports that Gray — a much-respected and much-feared civil service veteran who’s in line to turn out to be Keir Starmer’s chief of workers — could be criticized for the job change.
Gray’s flight to the opposition angered Conservatives, who pointed to her function because the unbiased mandarin tasked with investigating rule-breaking events in Downing Street beneath Boris Johnson. Gray’s extremely crucial report discovered that Johnson presided over “failures of leadership” in No. 10.
Dowden stated Gray had declined the prospect to spell out whether or not she had any contact with the Labour chief whereas in workplace.
He stated the probe into the circumstances surrounding Gray’s exit “involved interviewing relevant persons to establish further details on the contact between Ms Gray and the Leader of the Opposition.”
And he added: “I can update the House that Ms Gray was given the opportunity to make representations as part of this process but chose not to do so.”
But Dowden’s replace didn’t increase on the substance of Gray’s exit, citing the necessity to keep “confidentiality towards an individual former employee.”
It included a reminder that each one civil servants “are required to follow” the group’s 4 ideas of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.
“Section 4.4.9 of the Civil Service Management Code sets out that all members of the Senior Civil Service are in the ‘politically restricted’ category, which places further restrictions on their political activity,” Dowden stated.
“In addition, there is a requirement under the Directory of Civil Service Guidance, which underpins the Civil Service Code, that ‘contacts between senior civil servants and leading members of the Opposition parties…should…be cleared with…Ministers.’”
Such impartiality is “constitutionally vital to the conduct of government,” Dowden stated.
Starmer: ‘No discussions’ on partygate
In a spherical of interviews earlier Tuesday, Starmer stated he was “confident” Gray broke no guidelines.
“I had no discussions with her whilst she was investigating Boris Johnson whatsoever,” the Labour chief instructed the BBC.
Gray’s appointment will now be topic to clearance from the revolving-door watchdog that’s the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which can rule on how lengthy Gray ought to wait earlier than taking over the job with Labour. ACOBA can suggest a delay of as much as two years for these beginning a brand new post-government job.
Although there aren’t any sanctions for a breach of the watchdog’s guidelines, ignoring such recommendation may very well be politically damaging, whereas a prolonged delay may make it tougher for Gray to play a task in Labour’s bid to win the subsequent normal election.