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Sunday 3rd February 2013 | 12:11
Stephen Twigg, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary has written to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood calling for him to launch an official investigation into allegations of a smear campaign being run by the Education Secretary's Special Advisers.
Dear Sir Jeremy,
I write to ask you to launch an investigation into the conduct of the Special Advisers to the Secretary of State for Education, namely Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete.
As you will be aware, the Special Advisers Code specifies that personal attacks are prohibited:
“The highest standards of conduct are expected of special advisers and, specifically, the preparation or dissemination of inappropriate material or personal attacks has no part to play in the job of being a special adviser as it has no part to play in the conduct of public life. Any special adviser ever found to be disseminating inappropriate material will automatically be dismissed by their appointing Minister.”
There are serious allegations that the code may have been breached on several occasions. You will be aware that ministers have responsibility for the actions of their Special Advisers.
Tim Loughton MP, the former Children’s Minister gave evidence at the Education Select Committee where he described the children and families agenda as being a “declining priority” of the Department for Education.
Following this, a senior Department of Education source was quoted on the Spectator website as follows: “Loughton was a lazy incompetent narcissist obsessed only with self-promotion.” (http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/01/loughton-vs-dfe/)
In addition, the Twitter feed @toryeducation has made a number of personal attacks on journalists and other public figures.
The feed has attacked The Observer journalist Toby Helm as “an activist, not a professional hack” and a “Labour stooge” and just today accused him of “an emotional meltdown”.
It has retweeted allegations about the personal life of Financial Times journalist Christopher Cook from the Twitter feed @SteveHiltonGuru.
An article in The Observer has alleged that the feed is being run by Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete, who were asked by Henry Macrory, the Conservative head of press to tone down the comments.
I would be grateful if you could investigate the source of the smears on this Twitter feed and the attacks on Tim Loughton.
I would also ask you to investigate if official Departmental resources have been used, such as official computers, blackberries or phones, to conduct a smear campaign against those who question or criticise the Education Secretary.
I look forward to your reply.
Stephen Twigg MP
Shadow Education Secretary