Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 280-299)



  280. You also stated in one of your press statements that there were one or more issues within the department. What were the other issues that you faced within the Department?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) What was the context in which I that said that?

  281. I am going from the evidence we took from Mike Granatt last week. You mentioned one or more issues within the department concerned and I posed that question to Mr Granatt.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) The issue that I have been addressing is what happened in the four days between 11 February and 14 February. It is a very tightly defined investigation focused on who might have been in touch with two newspapers who produced stories which seemed designed to embarrass Jo Moore and what happened on 14 February and the relationship between the Department and the media which led to Mike Granatt writing his letter of complaint to Martin Sixsmith. That is the only thing I am investigating.


  282. It is a first, is it not, to have a leak inquiry which has produced a villain?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) No.

  283. It is unusual.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Very unusual.

  Chairman: Maybe things are on the up. I am trying to be helpful and hopeful.

Mr Trend

  284. Who is the villain?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I do not know.

  285. You agreed with that statement. I want to know who the villain was.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I do not think I want to pursue that.

  286. What is the current status of the person under suspension?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Suspended on full pay.

  287. Forever? How will it resolve itself?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Essentially what happens is the person who is suspended on full pay is informed of the case against them. We appoint what is technically known as a decision officer to pursue the issues around the case against this person. There are strict rules about how it is handled in terms of natural justice. A decision is then reached. We are at the first point of that process and it will take a few weeks probably.

  288. You are giving us a very good performance of a Permanent Secretary, but you are known better to the general public as a real human being in your accounts of Martin Sixsmith, a real living, breathing human being?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Yes. Very uncharacteristic of the Civil Service! Although perhaps not, as you know.

  289. Would you like to say how accurate Mr Sixsmith's account is?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) In what respect?

  290. In all respects? I can read bits out and ask you if you said it, but that would not be helpful. Broadly speaking has he got the picture right of what happened?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) He has a version of events which includes thing which did happen. It includes things which happened but not quite in the way that they are written down. It includes things where bits of the story have been omitted. Does that help?

  291. A little. Do you have a different recollection when he says you said that your Secretary of State was very clever or very cunning. Was that something that you said to him?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I do not know whether I want to get into this.

  292. I can understand why you would not.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I do not wish to comment on that.

  293. Would you wish to comment on the suggestion that has been made by the press, and else where, that you said that it was the Secretary of State who was blocking Mr Sixsmith's move to another department within government?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I would wish to comment on that, yes. What actually happened, and some of this is documented, including by Martin Sixsmith, was that the question actually arose on Saturday, whenever it was—I brought a chronology because I knew I would forget the dates—16 February of that week as to whether it might be possible for Mr Sixsmith to have another job in the Civil Service. This had not been discussed with him on 15 February, when he and I discussed my view that he should resign. There then followed a number of discussions. From the beginning of those discussions my position with Martin Sixsmith was that I was not sure that my Secretary of State would think this was a good idea, and that if my Secretary of State did think it was a good idea—or let us say my Secretary of State said, as he has said, a job in another department is not, strictly speaking, a matter for my Secretary of State—it was not clear to me, I said consistently from the beginning of my conversation with Mr Sixsmith, that if that issue was put to one side that that made it self-evident he could have another job in the Civil Service. The reason for that was, (a) there had to be another job available for him in the Civil Service but (b) my Secretary of State was not only the person who was pretty peeved about Mr Sixsmith and his conduct on 14 February. There were a number of other people who were, I think, not best pleased with what happened, and you only have to read the four o'clock lobby briefing to see that. I never said to Mr Sixsmith my Secretary of State was the only obstacle to this, I actually said something different.

  294. The only obstacle. Was he an obstacle?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) He was an obstacle because he was not very enthusiastic, and as he explained in Parliament that was his position.

  295. Your Secretary of State told Parliament there was not, in his mind, linkage between the resignation of Jo Moore and Martin Sixsmith, yet Mr Sixsmith's account would suggest that is your opinion of the Secretary of State's view?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I have nothing to say about that. I did not have a conversation with Mr Byers which implied there was a linkage.

  296. You did not tell Mr Sixsmith there was such a linkage in Mr Byers' mind.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I may or may not have done.

  297. Your memory is very, very good in other matters.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) My memory is quite good about some things. Actually I did not myself spend that week having conversations with Mr Sixsmith, then writing them down. In fact I only wrote down two sets of conversations I had with Mr Sixsmith so there could be no doubt in my mind about what happened. Generally speaking I was not taking shorthand records of my conversations with him. Perhaps some of my conversations with him were meant to be jollying him along in what were difficult circumstances when I did not actually expect that everything I might or might not have said to him would appear in the Sunday newspapers.

  298. That is living dangerously.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) It has indeed turned out to be living dangerously, yes.

  299. Can I turn to the personal statement you made, I would be very interested to know if it was your idea or if you discussed it with politicians before you made it. I wonder if you can tell us how it came about and why it is a good idea?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I do not think it is a good idea. I think it is an extremely bad idea. I can tell you exactly how it came about, there was a feeling communicated to me, I cannot remember which day I did it, there was feeling that the way in which Mr Sixsmith had chosen to represent his conversation with me and others was not an accurate account and was difficult for everyone concerned, including me. It was put to me that I set out clearly my understanding of what happened, and I was very reluctant to do that. I will come on to the reasons why I was reluctant in a moment.

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