Examination of Witness (Questions 220-239)|
THURSDAY 7 MARCH 2002
220. We have got confirmed that Alun Evans'
move was a career move, a progression in his career?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Yes.
221. Secondly, though the Secretary of State
defined what skills he wanted, very shortly afterwards he discovers
that he does not want Martin Sixsmith even in the Civil Service.
Is that correct?
(Sir Richard Mottram) There are two different things
here and they are separated in time. We had an open competition
to appoint a new Director for Communications. Martin Sixsmith
was successful in that. For various reasons, that did not work
out very well latterlythat is a Civil Service euphemism
for "it went belly up". I am choosing my words very
Annette Brooke: I will pass with that.
222. I think all of that could have boiled down
to John Prescott did not want a spin doctor and Stephen Byers
did. Is that right?
(Sir Richard Mottram) All that boils down to is the
very long explanation I gave.
223. I am interested in the effective working
of the Civil Service, the role that special advisers have to play.
All the evidence we have had given by members of the Civil Service
is that special advisers have a valuable role to play in modern
government. I am also interested in this whole business of how
they and civil servants are hired and fired because I become more
and more intrigued by the way this works as our enquiries go on.
You said in answer to the Chairman earlier on that when this original
crisis occurred as a result of the inflammatory e-mail, that it
was not your decision as Permanent Secretary of the Department
to consider whether or not the special adviser should be fired.
(Sir Richard Mottram) Yes because the special advisers
in the Department are appointed personally by the Secretary of
State. Everybody else in the Department is appointed through a
process which does not involve the personal hiring and firing,
so to speak, of the Secretary of State. So in that sense special
advisers fall into a slightly different category. If you look
at the Model Contract which I have got here, it brings this out.
224. We have looked in great detail at the Model
Contract and the Code of Conduct?
(Sir Richard Mottram) The Model Contract makes this
225. I recall at the time that the impression
was given that it was very much your decision as the personnel
manager as the Permanent Secretary of the Department to discipline
any member of your Department, special adviser or not, who had
breached a Code of Conduct?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Correct.
226. But not to decide on whether or not that
discipline went so far that somebody would be asked to resign
or would be fired? That is not your role at all as the Permanent
(Sir Richard Mottram) I think you raise a very interesting
question. The contractual status of a special adviser is different
to all other civil servants in a department and to that extent
I would argue that my power to deploy them, my responsibility
for how they are firedand I am not trying to shuffle things
off, I am trying to have a grown-up discussion about realitymy
responsibility for who is employed in the Department, my responsibility
for appraising how they perform, and taking action in relation
to how they perform is different between the special advisers
and all other members of my Department because the contractual
basis on which they work is different. All members of the Department,
including special advisers, are civil servants and they are covered
by the Department's Management Code and by the Department's Disciplinary
Code. In the Department's Disciplinary Code we define different
levels of misconduct that might lead to action being required
to be taken against civil servants, including special advisers.
So it is entirely theoretically possible, although I do not think
there has ever been a case, that a special adviser would do something
which constituted gross misconduct. If a special adviser did something
which constituted gross misconduct then, in my view, if you had
done the process properly in relation to the Civil Service Management
Code and the Department's equivalent to this, you would go to
the Minister and say, "This official (special adviser) has
committed gross misconduct and the application of the rules of
the Civil Service would suggest that therefore they should be
treated on the basis they have been guilty of gross misconduct"
and, generally speaking, the penalty for gross misconduct would
be to be dismissed.
227. If the Minister said to you, "I am
not going to sack them", at that point, am I not right in
saying, the technical position is that unless the Minister removes
the delegation from you, the right to hire and fire anybody, including
special advisers, is in the hands of the Permanent Secretary,
unless the Minister removes the delegation?
(Sir Richard Mottram) All of the powers of the Minister
are delegated to me in relation to personnel. The way in which
they are delegated in relation to special advisers is different.
This is wholly hypothetical in relation to Jo Moore on September
11 because it was not, in my view, a case of gross misconduct.
Imagine a hypothetical special adviser did something that was
gross misconduct and I went to the Secretary of State and said,
"Secretary of State, this person is committing gross misconduct",
and the Secretary of State said, "Thank you very much, Permanent
Secretary, but I am not really very interested" I think you
can safely assume I would take it elsewhere, there is another
place I can take it.
228. I presume to the Cabinet Secretary.
(Sir Richard Mottram) Correct and then it would go
to the Prime Minister and then it would have to be judged.
229. Was Number 10 involved at all in discussions
at that point about whether or not this was a sacking offence?
(Sir Richard Mottram) The application of the Civil
Service procedures in relation to Jo Moore were solely a matter
for me. I judged what her September 11 e-mail constituted in terms
of the Department's disciplinary procedures, in the same way as
I would with anybody else, with the assistance of somebody else
to make sure it was being done properly. We reached a view and
I communicated that view to the Secretary of State. That was the
basis on which he asked me to do it.
230. It is not true, as the first report says,
that the Secretary of State was prepared to fire Jo Moore but
that the view came from Number 10 that he should not, that is
(Sir Richard Mottram) No, I think there are two separate
issues here, which in the case of special advisers intercept and
might overlap. What is the application of the rules for special
advisers in terms of the fact they are civil servants, question
one. I have dealt with that question. Question two, since a special
adviser is a political animal and is more closely and personally
associated with the government than a normal civil servant, what
are the political and other consequences of retaining or disposing
of the services of the special adviser. That was never a question
that I could answer and it was never a question that was run through
any process for which I was responsible, so I cannot help you.
231. There is more than just the obvious victims
in all of this, is there not? It has been touted in the press
that, perhaps, because you are a Permanent Secretary whose name
was being mentioned a possible future Cabinet Secretary, you are
from a red brick university, you have been in the Civil Service
for 22 years, you use red brick language in dealing with civil
servants, there was conspiracy against you in all of these events.
Does that kind of politics go on in the Civil Service and do you
think it happened in this case?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Perhaps I can take some of these
things in turn. I read a very interestingit was not that
interesting, because I find the subject of the remarks I am alleged
to have made with the asterisks one of the most tedious subjects
I have ever had to deal withan amusing piece in the Times
which showed that using such words was associated either with
the lower classes or the upper classes and perhaps as I had been
born in the West Midlands, gone to a grammar school and then gone
to a university that was sort of red brick actually, but not reallyit
was the first of the new universities actuallydefinitely
a bit below the salt, I might have been swearing for that reason,
or alternatively it was because I spent my lunches with my upper
class colleagues in the Athenaeum and their upper classiness had
rubbed off on me! I find none of this very plausible. What is
actually the case is that much to my regret, actually, these remarks
appeared in the newspapers, they were uttered in private to one
person, with one other person in the room and they were quite
clearly over the top in a number of respects, not least in describing
the nature of the crisis we were engulfed in. In previous incarnations
I have dealt with life and death matters where lots of people
lives were at risk. I have been responsible for things to do with
nuclear warfare and whatever one thinks about the events of that
Friday they are not in that category. I much regret the thing
was so over-hyped.
232. Is there a conspiracy against you?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I hope not, but you never can
tell. Perhaps the members of the press could tell me!
233. Do you wish that at some point over the
last five months you had gone to the Secretary of State and said,
"We have a special adviser here who really is behaving as
they should not behave and something has to be done about it?"
(Sir Richard Mottram) That is to assume that we did
not discuss these matters. If the question is, should I have brought
them to a head and confronted the Secretary of State and said,
"This person is behaving in a way which cannot be managed
within the Department or tolerated within the Department?, should
I have done that, no.
234. Even now you do not think you should have
(Sir Richard Mottram) No. Obviously I deeply regret
what has happened, but I took a judgment, the judgment was reasonable
and the judgment was based upon the fact that what really matters
for the Department, what matters to all of the people in the Departmentthis
does bear on your inquiry, it was touched on by Jonathan Baumeis
to have a good relationship with their Ministers. That is what
we want. I do not think it would necessarily have been conducive
to that relationship to have picked a fight with one of the Secretary
of State's personal special advisers when personally I believed
the way in which she was relating with bits of the Department
could be managed and managed better. That is what we were doing.
235. Charlotte Morgan?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Yes.
236. Why did you get rid of her?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Well, I did not.
237. Where is she?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Are we really going to talk
about a number of individuals? She is in Brussels.
238. How long is she over there for?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I think about six months.
239. Was that pre-planned? There was a sort
of spate of people that went, Mr Evans and others?
(Sir Richard Mottram) If we are going to get into
this, which I do not want to do, but I will in her case because
she was the person I was speaking about earlier, let us be open
about this. She is the person who for very good reasons refused
to deal with the Kiley document. She was a junior official who
refused to deal with it. She was the official who said to me,
"Did I do the right thing or did I do the wrong thing?"
She was told by me she had done the right thing. If you are a
junior official and you are told by the Permanent Secretary you
have done the right thing, you do not have to leave the Department,
you do not have a problem in the Department if you have done the
right thing and you have even asked the Permanent Secretary. She
went to Brussels, I think you have this on the record, because
she had been seeking to go to Brussels for a number of months
and she had applied to go to Brussels last April. Moreover, it
is the very best officials who go to Brussels, the people who
we are most keen on who go to Brussels.