Labour call for Jo Johnson to be removed as minister following Toby Young report

Posted On: 
27th February 2018

Labour have called for the head of minister Jo Johnson after a report questioning his role in the appointment of Toby Young to a government role.

Former universities minister Jo Johnson came under fire from Labour over Toby Young's appointment.

The controversial journalist resigned a week after taking on a non-executive role at the Office for Students (OFS) following a public outcry over a series of misogynistic and homophobic tweets.

The Commissioner for Public Appointments found a series of failings in taking on board members, including meddling from Downing Street special advisers.

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The report points out that then universities minister Mr Johnson personally informed Mr Young about the new role and encouraged him to apply.

Mr Johnson was removed from his role as Universities Minister following the row and is now a minister in the Department for Transport.

Commissioner Peter Riddell also noted that the education secretary at the time of the appointment process, Justine Greening, had “questioned the proposed choice” of Mr Young, with concerns raised about how much time he could commit to the role.

He also found a “disparity” in the way Mr Young’s appointment had been vetted compared to those of other board members.

Mr Riddell identified “a number of areas where important principles in the governance code were breached or compromised”.

He said the appointment of a student experience role on the board had been “heavily influenced” by special advisers “notably from 10 Downing Street”.


Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said the findings brought into question his suitability for ministerial office.

Following an urgent question in the Commons, she asked Mr Johnson’s successor Sam Gyimah: “Can the minister today tell the House if the Cabinet Secretary is now investigating that breach?

“Is his predecessor really still suitable for ministerial office, given the findings of this report?

Mr Gyimah accepted that the proper checks had not been made ahead of Mr Young’s appointment.

“We have already accepted that in the case of Toby Young the due diligence fell short of what was required and therefore the department has already considered it’s due diligence processes."

He said the row should not detract from the "groundbreaking role" the new OFS would have in "empowering students and championing them".