Examination of Witness (Questions 180-199)|
THURSDAY 7 MARCH 2002
180. Did it produce any result?
(Sir Richard Mottram) It did not, no, for a reason
I could explain if you want me to.
181. It might be helpful as this is the key
(Sir Richard Mottram) What happened was the original
e-mail was copied to a very small number of people. For reasons
I do not particularly want to go into, it was subsequently copied
to others and became widely known within one part of the Department,
so it was very difficult to track it back to any individual. The
idea, for example, that because there were three names or four
names on the e-mail itself that it was one of those three names
was always widely implausible, in my view. It became clear that
it was much more widely disseminated. It may not even have been
from my Department that it eventually leaked.
182. So a leak inquiry but you could not find
out who did that which was the cause of all the trouble?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Exactly.
183. On the fatal day a week or two ago when
these dual resignations were taking place, there was another leakpremature
news of this announcementwhich caused all the problems
after that. Have you sought to find out where that leak came from?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I have not, Chairman, no.
184. Because in the scale of leaks it is not
worth bothering about?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I have not because I was not
sure I would ever get to the bottom of it.
185. Is it not true, I have heard this argued
all the time, that your Department is the most leaky department
(Sir Richard Mottram) No, it is not, Chairman no.
186. You do not think so?
(Sir Richard Mottram) For example, if we take these
two cases, it is probable but not necessarily correct that the
Jo Moore e-mail was leaked by someone in my Department. It is
probably but not necessarily the case. How the two resignations
came to come to the media's attention I have no idea but I find
it quite implausible that it came from anyone in my Department.
The number of officials who knew about this was very small, the
number of Ministers who knew was very small, and we had no interest
in letting it out.
187. When did you first realise that you were
presiding over a dysfunctional department?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I have never presided over a
dysfunctional department. What we had was a problem in relation
to one part of the press office in the Department.
188. I use the word because it has been used
by a Cabinet Minister in referring to the Department. We heard
evidence last week from Jonathan Baume at the FDA where he said
for many months from last autumn all this was going on.
(Sir Richard Mottram) "All this" being?
189. All this being the problem that erupted
a week or two ago.
(Sir Richard Mottram) We had a problem inside the
Department between, on the one hand, one of our special advisers
and, on the other handI thinka small number of our
staff. We had some leaks from our Department into the newspapers.
If the Committee went back and did an analysis of how many stories
have been produced over the last six to nine months that appear
to have come from "leaks" from government departments,
I am not sure DTLR would win the prize for the number of policy
related leaks. We had a particular problem, I think, that one
or two people in my department gossiped and might have thought
it was clever to leak about relationships in the department between
one special adviser and a small group of staff. It is not for
me to comment on the views of Cabinet Ministers but I do not myself
believe it is fair, for reasons I gave in my introductory remarks,
to say that DTLR is a dysfunctional department because in one
area of its activity we were seeking to deal with that problem.
190. So that we are clear, we are now getting
into some issues that raise wider questions. You knew, as you
were telling us, for a long time, months, there was a problem
between a special adviser part of your Department?
(Sir Richard Mottram) A special adviser, yes.
191. The special adviser part as represented
by a special adviser
(Sir Richard Mottram) Yes.
192. and the press office?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Parts of the press office, yes.
193. A section of the press office. And that
all kinds of problems were coming out of this. The question that
is asked all of the time is, if everyone knew this, and if you
knew this, why on earth was it not sorted before it blew up in
(Sir Richard Mottram) There are a number of different
ways of trying to tackle these problems. I have been over them
in my mind over recent weeks, unsurprisingly!
194. Share your mind with us?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I will share my mind with you.
You can try and manage out a situation to seek to get from A to
B with roughly everybody on the bus. Right. Put another way, the
decision in relation to the special adviser, the decision whether
the special adviser should or should not leave after 11 September
was a decision which I think was taken at a level above mine.
195. Do you know who took it?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I do not, no.
196. No idea. Nothing has come to you?
(Sir Richard Mottram) No. It was not my decision.
I am not accountable for that, but I sort of ended up responsible
for that, and that raises some interesting issues, whether that
special adviser was or was not retained inside the Department.
As my Secretary of State explained, we discussed the application
of the rules in the Departmental Management Code, which is the
same as the Civil Service Management Code, in the context of the
fact that Jo Moore had sent an e-mail of the kind she did and
in Civil Service terms what sort of level of `offence' this would
represent in relation to our guidance. My view, which has been
made public, which I stick to, was in those terms this was not
gross misconduct. It was the sort of thing, the sort of error
of judgment which would merit the "punishment" that
it received. That is from the perspective of this is a civil servant
doing a civil servant-type job. There was obviously a much wider
political perspective, a bigger issue for the government. As I
say a decision was taken that Jo Moore should remain within the
Department. From my perspective as the Permanent Secretary of
the Department my obligation was to manage the Department on the
basis that she was going to remain a member of the Department,
and I set out to do that. As I said earlier, we had in parallel
some issues about were members of staff disloyal? These were investigated
on more than one occasion. In the absence of clear evidence disciplinary
procedures were not taken against any individuals, but a clear
effort was made to talk through with those who worked in the press
office their obligations as civil servants, and what was expected
of them, what would follow if at a future stage there were problems
of this kind. We were seeking to manage a problem. With the benefit
of hindsight, which is always a wonderful thing, managing this
problem was quite tricky. With the benefit of hindsight when it
blew up, as it did on whatever day it was, you might say to yourself,
we should not have gone along with this, it would not have worked,
but actually in many ways it might well have worked. We do not
know. There are plenty of counter-factuals to what happened that
are plausible. When we appointed the new Director for Communications,
Martin Sixsmith, his clear intention, openly expressed to me,
was to make a success of his relationship with Jo Moore, and I
think he set out to do that. Ultimately, perhaps, he did not succeed.
Our plan was to run the Department effectively, including the
special advisers in support of our Ministers. As I say, in hindsight
you can say all sorts of things about why it did not work.
197. The problem that we have, all of this talk
of hindsight, counter-factuals, all of that, the problem is that
everyone else, we are told now, knew what was going on in present
(Sir Richard Mottram) Who is everyone else?
198. The FDA came along and told us it was known
for months, there was somebody described by the FDA, as a classic
textbook case of bullying, who had been bullying her way round
the Department for months on end causing endless problems with
the press department, a kind of civil war raging. You do not require
hindsight to see that, do you?
(Sir Richard Mottram) It is the supposition behind
your question that I did not know what Jo Moore was doing.
199. I wanted to know why it was not got hold
of earlier on?
(Sir Richard Mottram) It was got hold of earlier on.
There is some difficulty in all this that we are talking about
individuals and we are talking about private conversations in
relation to individuals, and I am not sure it is a very satisfactory