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Labour Insists Sue Gray Appointment Complied With Rules After Code Breach Ruling

Sue Gray (Alamy)

2 min read

Labour has accused the government of a “political stunt” after a Whitehall inquiry concluded that former senior civil servant Sue Gray had broken the civil service code during the recruitment process to become Keir Starmer's new chief of staff.

But Labour has insisted that "all rules were complied with" during the process to appoint Gray to the job, which she is due to start in the autumn. Gray was cleared for the job by Parliament’s appointment committee, ACOBA, last week.

Reports emerged in March that Gray was due to join Starmer's top team, which sparked criticism from Conservatives who felt the new affiliation with the Labour party compromised her role leading the inquiry into whether former prime minister Boris Johnson broke his own Covid lockdown restrictions. 

In a written statement published on Monday morning, Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin said that Gray first spoke to Starmer in October, around four months before she resigned from the civil service. Ministers and the civil service were not updated about these conversations. 

A Cabinet Office investigation has now “found that the Civil Service Code was prima facie broken as a result of the undeclared contact between Ms Gray and the Leader of the Opposition,” Quin said. 

He said that Gray had been given the opportunity to make representations but chose not to do so. 

“The rules and guidance that govern the conduct of civil servants are clear and transparent,” Quin added. 

“It is deeply unfortunate that events have transpired in this way.”

Labour has said that Gray - who was the former Second Permanent Secretary for the Union and Constitution - will join them in September, and accused the government of “wasting time” on “Mickey Mouse nonsense”. 

A Labour party spokesperson said: "All rules were complied with. The ACOBA process makes that clear. This statement is a political stunt by a Tory government out of ideas and out of road. 

“It says everything you need to know about the Tories that they have spent weeks wasting time on this Mickey Mouse nonsense, while refusing to investigate the serious allegations of sexual assault against their London mayoral hopeful, Daniel Korski. 

“We’re looking forward to Sue Gray joining us this September as we continue to show the country that only Labour can build a better Britain."

The green light for Gray to join Labour was given by ACOBA last week. 

They said she is free to take up her role as Starmer's chief of staff after six months from her final day in her post in the civil service, and other terms include her not drawing on "any privileged information available to her from her time in Crown service". 

 

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