Eric Pickles’ team are closing ranks to protect his most senior aides. Neither of his special advisers have been disciplined despite an unprecedented letter from the cabinet secretary reprimanding David Cameron for their behaviour, Local Government Chronicle revealed (£) this week.
In September 2010, Electoral Commission chair Jenny Watson was smeared as “incompetent” and “milking the taxpayer” by a source within the department, widely thought to be one of Pickles’ SpAds Sheridan Westlake or Giles Kenningham.
But in a response to a freedom of information request from Allister Hayman the department said:
“no disciplinary matters concerning the performance of special advisers” have been reported in the department since May 2010 and “no possible contract or code of conduct breaches by special advisers has been reported”.
This does not preclude the possibility that the offending SpAd received an off-the-record dressing down at a senior level. We can have no doubt, however, that Pickles is determined to shield Kenningham and Westlake, the latter of whom had a particularly formidable reputation within CCHQ, running the Tories’ Liberal Democrat attack unit.
Well-placed sources indicate the suspected SpAds are “still walking round DCLG like they own the place”.