Case to finally face PACAC after ministers delayed session over Partygate report

The cabinet secretary is set to be asked about Greensill, job cuts, Partygate and Lord Geidt's resignation
Cabinet secretary Simon Case. Photo: Reuters/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

23 Jun 2022

Cabinet secretary Simon Case will finally appear before the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee next week to discuss Greensill, Partygate and mass job cuts after ministers stopped him from attending the committee hearing last month.

Case and government ethics chief Darren Tierney were blocked from appearing at the committee evidence session on 23 May because of the imminent release of former ethics chief Sue Gray’s Partygate report, according to PACAC.

Case and Tierney will now be questioned on Tuesday, 28 June at 2pm as part of PACAC’s inquiry into the propriety of governance in light of the Greensill scandal.

As well as facing questions on the lobbying row, the duo are expected to be asked about unlawful parties held at No.10 during the pandemic, the recent resignation of the prime minister’s ethics adviser Christopher Geidt and managing potential conflicts of interest in government.

When the original session was cancelled, committee chair William Wragg said the ministerial block "puts government transparency in a poor light".

The resignation of the PM’s adviser on ministerial interests will be a new topic for the session. Lord Geidt said last week that he had been placed in an mpossible and odious position.

Geidt stood down one day after appearing at PACAC, where he described the PM’s Partygate fine as a potential breach of the ministerial code.

Gray’s Partygate report, released on 25 May – two days after Case and Tierney’s PACAC session was originally due to take place – said ministers and senior officials "must bear responsibility" for the culture which allowed the Covid law-breaking events to go ahead.

The report named and featured photos of Case – who was leading the investigation until it emerged that he may have been present at one of the events being investigated – drinking with Boris Johnson and others at a Downing Street event which the PM and chancellor Rishi Sunak were fined for attending.

The cabinet secretary did not receive any fixed penalty notices over Partygate.

Last year, Gray was herself blocked from giving evidence to the committee on Greensill by then-Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who said it would have been “inappropriate”.

The committee is also expected to question Case on plans to cut more than 90,000 civil service jobs. The cabinet secretary told staff last month that the civil service will need to make “difficult decisions” to reduce the workforce.

Boris Johnson last month announced the plans to bring the civil service headcount back to 2016 pre-Brexit levels. `The Prospect and PCS unions have both since announced plans for an industrial response.

Departments are working to a 30 June deadline to draw up plans to reduce their headcount by up to 40%. A hiring freeze and redundancies have been mooted as potential routes to reducing the headcount, while the Fast Stream graduate programme is set to be paused next year.

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