Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 260-279)



  260. It was probably guilt by association.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) No, I am trying to be precise. A number of events happened. They involved his part of the Department. He was engaged in them. There was deep unease about some of what went on, both inside the Department and across the Government, as you know, because it was put into the public domain. We received a rocket from the head of the Government Information and Communications Service which was couched in really quite extreme terms. If you look at the lobby briefings on 14 February, in particular the one in the afternoon of 14 February, these are really very unusual things.

  261. The fact that he seemed to have confirmed the validity of an e-mail to the Daily Mirror that turned out to be inaccurate, was that an offence to you?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) That depends on whether he did.

  262. We do not know that?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I do not think I should discuss in front of the Committee whether he did or did not do such a thing.

  263. I am trying to find out why this gentleman has gone.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Let us be clear about this. When I invited him to resign it was not on the basis that he had himself been engaged with the Daily Mirror in relation to the story they published on 14 February, so to that extent whether he was or he was not was irrelevant when I invited him to step down.

  264. Just finishing off this section, why did Jo Moore have to go?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Because she was the story.

  265. She was the innocent party who had been leaked against.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) She was the innocent party who had been leaked against in that particular case, but she was the story. Why did I recommend that she should go, which I did do? Because, in my view, what had now happened was a confirmation of something that in a way we knew and we had been trying to manage our way through—that it was almost impossible for her to operate without the media (and I do not wish to attack the media, I am friendly with them, or I used to be!) turning it into a story about her and a story about an e-mail. Her effectiveness, and I am not being personal about her, I determindedly do not wish to be personal about her or about anyone else I worked with, in her case this was just the final confirmation of something that I think Ministers knew; that her position had become impossible. She increasingly, although I did not myself speak to her on that day, knew that her position was impossible. This was in a way the final confirmation that her position was impossible. If you remember, Chairman, on the day that the Daily Mirror and Mail or Express, I cannot remember I am sorry, published those stories on 14 February she was being doorstepped outside her house and so on. Her position was becoming very, very difficult.

  266. But she had had you saying she was not guilty of gross misconduct for the big e-mail back in September. You had not been making representations about her behaviour to the Secretary of State.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I might have been talking about it but representations is a stronger word.

  267. There we are. Then she is e-mailed against and then she has to go.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) She did not have to go; she resigned.

  268. You are giving me dark looks.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) No, I hope I am not, Chairman, that would be quite wrong.

  Chairman: We had better move to Anthony D.

Mr Wright

  269. Can we continue along those lines. In your statement you said that one of Mr Sixsmith's criteria for resigning was that Jo Moore should resign as well.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Yes.

  270. Why do you think that should be? Why should he ask for her resignation?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) The logic of that was that we were caught up in a situation which could not be resolved other than by changes inside the Department and she was part of the problem. I suppose it was easier for him to go in the context that he was not the only person that went. Does that make sense?

  271. I can understand your position, the suggestion they both should go, but why should that be one of the criteria that Mr Sixsmith would suggest he would agree to resign if she would resign as well?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Perhaps because he had been struggling to resolve issues around her role.

  272. How is morale within the Department now?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I think that morale within the Department is mixed. In most of the Department morale is quite high. I have regular lunches with staff. I was at one this lunch-time before I came here. I was talking to them about what they thought about all of this. They were amicably amused about the pickle their Permanent Secretary was in but they said, "We are getting on with our jobs". They are an excellent group of people and they get on with their jobs and do a very good job. The area of the Department that I am obviously most worried about is the press office because things have been very difficult for them. They, too, are generally a very good collection of people and they are getting on with their jobs.

  273. Have many people asked to transfer to other departments since this episode began?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) None that I am aware of. Do you mean people generally or in the press office?

  274. Within that particular unit, yes.

   (Sir Richard Mottram) There have probably been one or two changes but they change over quite a lot. I did look up the numbers and people move around quite a bit in the information service bit of the Civil Service, for very good reasons. I think there are ten people in the last six to nine months who have moved out and we had recruited ten people in, so there is movement, yes.

  275. I put to Mr Granatt last week that perhaps one way out of the Department was to put forward an e-mail and have to be transferred out of the Department. I suggested that is probably the wrong way to run the Civil Service. Mr Granatt replied that certainly he had put out in a letter that if anybody was unhappy in the service, the worst thing would have been to remove them to another department. Would that be normal procedure, that people transfer if they were completely unhappy within a department?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) Yes. If they were unhappy within a department and their unhappiness related to relationships within the department, the right course for us would be to find them a job in a different context. If they are unhappy within the department because they do not like the Civil Service the answer is for them to go and get another job. There is quite a lot of turnover, particularly amongst our younger talented people because there is a market for younger talented people. What is absolutely and categorically not acceptable is to seek to bring about results by leaking to the media. The striking thing about these events is that one must suspect that things were being done in the hope, so to speak, of "getting Jo Moore" (I put that in inverted commas, Chairman, I think it is a very offensive idea in every respect) and what was done was that chaos was created and the Department's reputation was seriously damaged. That is the message that I and all the senior managers in the Department have been putting out every day since 15 February. Leaking is completely unacceptable full stop. It is also amazingly stupid, as these events would show.

  276. Would somebody in that situation be removed from the Civil Service altogether?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) If it could be proved that they had commited gross misconduct, yes.

  277. Are you still continuing with the investigation within the Department over the current leaks?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I have largely completed it.

  278. When will Mike Granatt become involved within that?
  (Sir Richard Mottram) He will not.

  279. Last week he said over succeeding weeks he probably would become involved within that.
  (Sir Richard Mottram) I do not know why he said that. I can go back and check to make sure that we can reconcile what I am saying with what he said, Chairman, which I am sure we will be able to—he said in his Civil Service way! The way in which this happens, I am very keen to get this on the record, is we have established procedures for security investigations. I instigated a security investigation. The security investigation was completed on 1 March. It was conducted within the part of the Department which deals with these things by the Department's security officers. They put forward recommendations. If as a result of that process we feel there is—using language quite loosely —a case to answer, then that case will be put to an individual and then we apply the Department's disciplinary procedures which are completely codified and strict and they are followed. We have completed a security investigation. I do not envisage opening another one into these events. One individual has been suspended on full pay. I do not envisage others being suspended.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 28 March 2002