Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280 - 282)



  Q280  Chairman: The argument would be that it is the kind of book. This is not a reflective account about the life of a Cabinet Secretary, this is gossip in the office. That is the fundamental difference. That was what was said to be completely unacceptable, the kind of book that it was. Around that there could be no negotiation, either you believe it is an acceptable project or you do not, it is not something where you can say, "This little bit of gossip is all right, but that little bit of gossip is not all right", the project was deemed to be unacceptable.

  Mr Price: Yes, and I disagreed. I exclude the premise of your question that there is nothing in the book apart from office tittle-tattle, but maybe that strays into literary criticism as well. There have been political diaries in the past written by advisers as well as by ministers and Prime Ministers and I think they have contributed to our understanding of government and how it is conducted. I do not believe that a blanket ban on my kind of book would be legitimate in any form at all.

  Q281  Kelvin Hopkins: Does this not all reinforce the point I am trying to make, that there should be a Civil Service separate from politics which has very strict rules and a Code of Ethics, on the other hand, you are an ex-journalist, a political activist, going to work for a political party. You are as dodgy as I am. You are a politician.

  Mr Price: On that spirit of comradeship—

  Q282  Chairman: I was struck as you were speaking just now that you also used the word "naïve", which was the word Christopher Meyer used. You were both expressing your naivety in thinking that these books would excite any interest at all. Maybe that gives you a curious bond because, whatever else it was, it was a very lucrative kind of naivety, was it not?

  Mr Price: It turned out to be a more lucrative kind of naivety than I had anticipated.

  Chairman: Thank you very much for coming and telling us about it.

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