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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
Defence
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Tory Party Chair Has Apologised For Suella Braverman Email Calling Civil Service An "Activist Blob"

Conservative Party chair Greg Hands has apologised for an email sent out in the home secretary's name

3 min read

Chairman of the Conservative Party Greg Hands has apologised to the cabinet secretary Simon Case over an email sent to party supporters last week in Suella Braverman's name in which the civil service was described as an "activist blob".

Hands said he takes "any instances that may undermine our impartiality incredibly seriously”, in a letter to the PCS union seen by Civil Service World.

An email was sent to Tory members in the name of the home secretary which accused civil servants of being part of a left-wing “activist blob” which was "blocking" the government’s Illegal Migration Bill to try to tackle small boats crossing the English Channel. 

Home Secretary Suella Braverman then denied ever seeing or signing off on the email which was sent by Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), chaired by Greg Hands.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has said the government took swift action to address the “error” and added that he has spoken to Hands, "who apologised for the error".

“He assured me that he has already taken action to change procedures in CCHQ to make sure that there is not a repeat of this incident," the head of the civil service said.

Hands has also “provided his assurance that attacks on the civil service are not part of any standard CCHQ lines”, Case added.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka wrote to Case on Friday to express the union’s “deep concern” over what he called an “outrageous attack” on officials. Fellow civil service unions the FDA and Prospect sent similar letters to the prime minister.

Serwotka’s letter said the comments were “a slur on the political impartiality of the civil service”.

Responding, Case said: “As head of the civil service, I take any instances that may undermine our impartiality incredibly seriously and I am reassured that the error you have raised has been addressed quickly and that actions have been taken to help prevent it happening again.”

He said senior leaders in the civil service “acted quickly to raise the issue with government ministers, who immediately recognised the error and took steps to resolve it”.

Union bosses last week said the email may represent a breach of the ministerial code by Braverman because it undermined civil service impartiality.

Addressing the criticism of Braverman, Case said: “You will have seen that the home secretary has been clear that she did not see, sign off or sanction the email. She has also written to staff across the Home Office to thank them for their outstanding work on the illegal migration bill.

"Furthermore, the home secretary has also made clear her gratitude to Home Office civil servants in her public interviews in recent days.”

Case said he was “grateful” to Serwotka for raising the concerns. He also copied in FDA general secretary Dave Penman, who he said had "raised similar issues".

Penman last week described the CCHQ email as a "cowardly attack on civil servants" who cannot defend themselves and called on the home secretary to apologise. 

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.

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