A cabinet minister, senior local government staff, councillors and other MPs were among those to have received letters from bogus Downing Street officials on the basis of “security”, Political Scrapbook can reveal. The full list of “computer generated” pseudonyms, introduced in 2005 after a civil servant was targeted by a member of the public at their home address, is published below.

The practice was originally exposed in May after MP Gerald Kaufman attempted to contact an Number 10 official from whom he had received a letter. When he rang to speak to “Mrs E Adams”, however, he was told that “she did not speak on the telephone” before staff eventually conceded that she, erm, did not actually exist.

A freedom of information request has revealed the full list shown below. Each name was allocated to a team of staff, which Downing Street insist were “fully accountable” for its usage.

  • Mrs K Grady
  • Mr R Smith
  • Mr M Davies
  • Mr S Caine
  • Mr F Jones
  • Mrs E Adams
  • Mrs S Silver
  • Mr J Miles
  • Mr G Edwards

Further investigation shows that bogus names were used even where correspondence clearly originated from highly reputable individuals and organisations. In addition to Gerald Kaufman, the system has also been used to respond to other MPs. In March 2011, secretary of state for Wales Cheryl Gillan received correspondence from Nick Clegg’s office signed by “Mrs S Silver”, a fake name assigned to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

“Mrs Silver” also wrote to the Chief Executive of Oldham Council in response to a letter about tuition fees, thanking him for “taking the time to write” to the DPM while “Mr S Caine” wrote to the most senior official on Windsor Council, passing on then PM Gordon Brown’s regrets that he was not able to answer all correspondence personally.

Scrapbook wonders how many other MPs and council chief executives have been fobbed off by imaginary officials.

  1. Hardly unsurprising! Such names should be used to respond to the public (for the reasons why they were introduced in the first place) but perhaps real names ought to have been used to reply to MPs, Cllrs etc!

  2. Personally, I’d prefer a strict Miss S. Caine to write to me.

    P.S. Why do you request emails? Order-order doesn’t. Try to lean best practice.

  3. I don’t see your problem with the practice. It was introduced to tackle a genuine problem, namely (as you mention) that a civil servant was targeted at their home address. As long as somebody wrote the letter, and it is possible to trace a letter back to the author if necessary, I don’t see how it matters whether they sign their name or a random pseudonym.

  4. zenix, if you read the article you would see that it can only be traced back to a teat of people. No 1 person is accountable. It sounds like yes minister

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