A letter from ex-cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell was subject to unauthorised censorship to remove references to fraud on government credit cards — and to Eric Pickles’ department being warned over media ambushes on ex-ministers. Images of signatures published below by Scrapbook, show the fake signature added to a letter — without permission from the UK’s most senior civil servant.
As the Observer revealed yesterday, John Prescott has demanded an inquiry after correspondence he received from Whitehall appeared to show key elements of a letter were redacted. A note slapping down DCLG for not warning ex-ministers on parliamentary questions concerning them was hand-signed by Gus O’Donnell. But in a Cabinet Office cock-up, Prescott was then sent another copy — with information removed and an electronically reproduced signature.
DCLG attack dog Grant Shapps repeatedly briefed the media on itemised credit card bills from John Prescott’s old department — even though £2,000 of transactions were carried out on fraudulently on cloned cards, for which it was claimed a member of staff was disciplined. The removal of the warning from O’Donnell allowed DCLG to continue its campaign of negative briefings.
And recognising that DCLG had broken rules on prior disclosure of data relating to former ministers, Gus wrote with, understatement characteristic of the senior civil service: “I have reminded DCLG of this process.” Prescott claims the briefings are part of a smear plot to derail his police commissioner bid.
Editing letters from the Cabinet Secretary would be fatal for a SpAd.