Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 240-259)




  240. Perhaps I can just insert for the record the fact that the Committee has received a letter from the person in question emphasising the fact that she went to Brussels by a determined choice and because, in a sense, of her excellence rather than anything else. [1]
  (Sir Richard Mottram) It is greatly to her credit that she has this position in Brussels, which is a stagiaire position, which is absolutely the thing we are trying to get for all of our best young people. She has no cloud hanging over her. She was never reprimanded, she was never rebuked and I have the highest opinion of her.

  Chairman: I would not like you to pursue that.

Mr Liddell-Grainger

  241. I am not going to. I was just checking up.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) This was partly one of those myths, you know.

  242. It may well be, I just wanted to make it clear.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Have I made it clear, Chairman?

  243. Thank you very much. Her letter bears that out. Can I move on, Kevin was talking about employment within the special advisers and the Civil Service, I am intrigued because the Secretary of State via the Sixsmith file dossier, as it is now called, said that, in fact, it has been inferred by the Secretary of State he personally blocked his chance of ever working in the Civil Service again, is that the case?

  244. No.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Not at all. It is not the case. It has been dealt with by the Secretary of State in the House of Commons.

  245. I just wondered, because I am interested that Mr Sixsmith is saying something very clear in what is a very long dissertation, that he feels that he will not be able to work in the Civil Service again because his boss, his top boss said, "I would rather we did not have you anywhere near us".
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Both the Secretary of State and I have dealt with this matter in the statement that I made and I am happy to explain to the Committee how I came to make that statement—it is a pretty unusual thing for a Permanent Secretary to have to do—I made that statement and that touches on these matters, the Secretary of State then dealt with them very directly. What happened was the prospect and the possibility of Mr Sixsmith having another job in the Civil Service was being discussed. The Secretary of State made it clear in his statement that he did not think, from his own perspective, that this was a particularly good idea. There was no job available in DTLR for Mr Sixsmith to take and if he were to be deployed in another department that would have required a job in another department. We were exploring with Mr Sixsmith that possibility and other possibilities when he chose to go to the Sunday Times.

  246. In other words, do you feel Mr Sixsmith has been hard done by and that he has had to go public on what he feels is a set of events and he feels he has been grievously let down by the Department. Jonathan Baume who was in front of us last week is taking up the case, he is acting for Mr Sixsmith. He does feel there are fundamental problems here.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) He can speak for himself, he speaks for Mr Sixsmith because Mr Sixsmith is a member of his trade union, I think. Does Mr Sixsmith have the right to feel hard done by is a very interesting question. I would answer it like this. I was certainly very keen that he, I and others would work to manage these problems. He was committed to doing that. For various reasons, that I do not quite know, it all went spectacularly wrong. I touched on one of them. Events of this kind have lots of little contributory causes, it all went pretty spectacularly wrong. We were then having conversations with Mr Sixsmith, I devoted an enormous amount of attention—I am not trying to get the Committee's sympathy on this, why should I—exploring these things with him. I put a proposal for how these matters might be resolved to him on the Friday night, I cannot remember the date—I have a chronology somewhere—and on the Saturday night I was telephoned and I was told this dossier was in the Sunday Times. That all seemed to me to be a bit of a pity because I was rather expecting the following Monday Mr Sixsmith was going to respond to the proposition which I had put, which was the third proposition I put on this matter.


  247. If he had not gone to the Sunday Times he would have been redeployed in the Civil Service?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I am not saying that, Chairman.

  248. You seem to be saying that.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I am saying we were discussing whether he might be redeployed in the Civil Service or if he was not the terms under which he could go would meet his needs as well as ours.

Mr Liddell-Grainger

  249. Yes. The details of the resignations, and all of the rest of it, were announced together. It was announced earlier than was originally planned, it was leaked, was it not?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I do not know whether it was leaked, all I know is it was on Sky News, so I suppose it was leaked. I was watching Sky News, it might have been some other news, I do not know.

  250. Are you looking into it?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) No, I am not looking into it.

  251. There have been more leaks than the Titanic. If this was the MoD we would have sunk in the Gulf. Are you looking at these leaks? I think somebody was quoted as saying, "The Number 10 twerp". What is going on here? Are you seriously looking at all these leaks?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I have had an investigation into all the events between February 11 and February 14 which has gone into great detail on what happened, what led to the stories in the newspapers, what happened on 14 February. All that has been investigated in great detail. I have not myself set in hand a leak investigation in relation to how the news of the resignations of Martin Sixsmith and Jo Moore came to be on the news at 4.45 because I have no evidence whatsoever that that news came from my Department.

  252. I do not see how else it could have got there unless Ms Moore or Mr Sixsmith leaked it themselves.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Other people knew about it.

  253. It was a departmental leak or a Number 10 leak? Is that what you are saying?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) No, I am saying other people knew about it.

  254. Or the Cabinet Office?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Or whatever. All I am saying is I have not thought it productive to launch an investigation in relation to my Department.


  255. So we do not lose this and have to come back to it again. You corrected me when I suggested a moment or two ago that Mr Sixsmith could have been redeployed in the Civil Service but for going to the Sunday Times. Let us be clear, was that still one of the options that was available?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Yes. I want to be very careful with the Committee on this. I am talking about things we really should not be talking about but since they have all been in the newspapers, perhaps it makes it easier. I had put a proposition to him which was a proposition about his leaving the Civil Service on mutually agreed terms. He could have come to me on the following Monday and said, "This does not quite fit the bill. Are you still sure that I can't work in the Civil Service?" And I would have thought about whether that was or was not the case.

  256. What was his offence?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) What was his offence?

  257. Yes.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) His position was untenable, I think, for a number of reasons to do with the way in which his part of the Department conducted itself in that week.

  258. So the offence was that his bit of the Department had broken down?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) A number of ill-judged things were done for which he was personally responsible.

  259. Not that he had necessarily done them?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Not that he had necessarily done them but not that he had necessarily not done them.

1   See Ev 54 (GI 03). Back

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