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.