Jowell: briefings against DCMS chief ‘spiteful’
Former culture secretary Dame Tessa Jowell has attacked as “spiteful” an anonymous press briefing against Jonathan Stephens, permanent secretary of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and called on the culture secretary to disavow it.
Last week the Times quoted a “government source” saying that “ministers, including Maria Miller, the new culture secretary, [do] not rate him” and that “the Olympics were run well despite [Stephens], not because of him”.
Jowell, the former Olympics minister, criticised the “really horrible, spiteful briefing”, adding that Stephens made a very valuable contribution to the Games.
She said: “It’s a very ugly turn of events that ministers or those close to them now believe that they can – with impunity – brief against their civil servants whilst at the same time expecting utter loyalty,” and called on Miller to “disavow these shady ‘government sources’.”
When asked whether Miller would disavow the briefings, DCMS declined to comment – a response that, Jowell said, left her “astonished”.
“No doubt not only Jonathan Stephens, but other civil servants in the department, will feel badly let down,” she added.
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Joshua Chambers is Civil Service World's Deputy and Online Editor.