Department for Education emails leaked in today’s Guardian reveal how key government work has been farmed out to partisan allies of Michael Gove at the controversial New Schools Network. But this isn’t the first time the secretary of state has attempted to bypass his own department’s civil servants.
Back in March, as we reported, Gove flouted the civil service recruitment ban by advertising externally for two speechwriters. Emails released in response to a freedom of information request show that the move was initially blocked by junior minister Lord Hill, but opposition was soon quashed, and Gove was able to hire Alexandra Gowlland — a former researcher for Tory minister Nick Gibb — along with Elena Narozanski, who worked as his special adviser barely a month before the positions were advertised.
In February, James Frayne — a former campaigns director for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, and another key Gove ally (he features on the acknowledgements page of Gove’s book Celsius 7/7) — was brought in as Director of Communications after the veteran Caroline Wright took voluntary redundancy. And only last week, Gabriel Milland of Policy Exchange was appointed head of news, replacing Lee Bailey, who left in May “without a new role lined up”.
Gove will be insisting that teachers are Tories next.