Tag Archives: tim loughton

Gove to be grilled on allegations he misled Parliament over ‘bullying’

Michael Gove Education Committee

Michael Gove is to be grilled by MPs this morning over claims he misled parliament in relation to allegations of bullying by his staff. The education secretary will face the Education Committee at 9:30am in Portcullis House.

In an outbreak of SpAd line management redolent of Jeremy Hunt’s defence to the Leveson Inquiry, Gove had previously claimed that he had no clue about “allegations about [his advisers] acting inappropriately” — despite a £25,000 payout to a staff member who claimed she was bullied. He told MPs:

“I am not omniscient, but I have seen no evidence of that.”

Gove’s attempt to pre-empt further digging by the only served to “piss off” committee members. He wrote to them following his last appearance:

“While I cannot comment on individual employment matters, I can confirm that I have never been made aware of allegations by civil servants of inappropriate actions by special advisers.”

As Scrapbook reported last month, one of Gove’s former ministers has turned on him after being sacked from the education brief. Tim Loughton has asked a string of forensic parliamentary questions after a departmental source briefed The Spectator that he was a “lazy incompetent narcissist”.

Loughton has continued to stalk his former boss, tabling a number of further questions, such as:

“what specific instructions and guidance he has issued on guarding against breaches of the Civil Service code regarding personal comments and briefings against individuals; if he will publish any such instructions and guidance; and if he will make a statement.”

None of these have been answered, however.

MPs can be restrained in their questioning by what they “officially know”. In a breathtakingly arrogant response to the committee calling him to give further evidence, Gove facetiously told them he was “available tomorrow”. It looks as though the education secretary is desperate appear MPs before they got their hands on more answers to Loughton’s questions.

And the figure that signs off on answers to those Parliamentary questions? Dominic Cummings — one of Gove’s advisers accused of bullying in the payout case.

Blue on blue: former education minister turns on Michael Gove

Tim Loughton

Former education minister Tim Loughton has turned on his former boss Michael Gove, tabling written parliamentary questions designed to unseat his special adviser Dominic Cummings.

Controversial aide Cummings, who Scrapbook revealed on Friday was being hung out to dry by an exasperated 10 Downing Street, is a leading suspect for the “senior Department for Education source” who briefed the Spectator that Loughton was a “lazy incompetent narcissist”.

But with a former member of DfE staff receiving a £25,000 payout in the wake of a grievance procedure involving Cummings it looks like Loughton is going on the offensive, using parliamentary machinery to quiz the department:

(1) how many formal complaints his Department has received about the conduct of special advisers in his Department since May 2010 from (a) other members of staff, (b) officials from other departments and (c) members of the public;

(2) how many formal grievance procedures by staff have taken place in his Department in each of the last five years;

(3) how many grievance procedures by staff in his Department have resulted in payments to those staff in each of the last five years; and what the size of each such payment was.

Despite the sizeable payout, the media have been briefed that an internal investigation in the department “cleared” Cummings of wrongdoing. Loughton also tabled a second question probing the reporting procedures:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what the procedure is for reporting (a) grievance procedures and (b) payoffs resulting from grievance procedures to his Department’s Education Board; and on which dates these matters were referred to in papers circulated to the Board or discussed at the Board.

This could get very messy indeed. The last thing any secretary of state wants on the backbenches is a former minister with an axe to grind.

Ironically, one of Loughton’s final duties as a minister was to fend off a forensic written question from Tom Watson on the topic of Michael Gove’s departmental mobile phone.

The gamekeeper has turned poacher.

Gove advisers in firing line over briefing against Tory ex-minister

Michael Gove sticking his tongue out

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg has called for an investigation into a vicious negative briefings from within the Department for Education.

After former education minister Tim Loughton told a committee of MPs that the children and families agenda was a “declining priority” under Michael Gove, the Spectator published a three-paragraph evisceration attributed to a senior DfE source, which concluded:

“Loughton was a lazy incompetent narcissist obsessed only with self-promotion.”

An exchanges on this issue during education questions yesterday left honourable members fearing for Gove’s hearing. Having been asked directly by Twigg whether he would investigate a potential breach of strict rules for special advisers and civil servants, Gove responded by answering a completely different question:

“I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that point. It gives me an opportunity to affirm the importance of child protection and of ensuring that this Government take all the steps needed to make sure that no child is placed at risk”

Gove continued in this vein — apparently oblivious to heckles of “answer the question”. Twigg has now written to the permanent secretary in the department, Chris Wormald, demanding a probe into the issue.

While Westminster insiders have their strong suspicions as to the provenance of the briefing, SpAds have a track record of getting away with murder. Eric Pickles’ team closed ranks to protect one of their number even after David Cameron was rebuked by the civil service over a DCLG smear in 2010.

Let’s see where this one goes.

More: Read Twigg’s letter in full »

John Bercow: Children’s minister shouldn’t behave like child

UPDATE: Apparently the children’s minister concerned was not Sarah Teather, as stated here previously, but her junior, Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families Tim Loughton. This gives us the perfect opportunity to reprint the front cover of Community Care magazine, from which Loughton pleads pathetically: “I want to be your friend”!

Though the prime minister’s Benny Hill reference has caught the imagination of the media, Scrapbook’s favourite moment from PMQs were these choice words from John Bercow to recalcitrant Liberal Democrat frontbencher Sarah Teather Conservative MP Tim Loughton:

“The Minister for Children is not obligated to behave like a child. It isn’t necessary.”

However there is no issue with ministers in this portfolio looking like children.

  • Follow us on Twitter