Cabinet secretary quizzed over ‘incomplete’ standards probe

MPs ask Simon Case to set out what will happen to Christopher Geidt’s remaining live investigation
Photo: REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo

By Jim Dunton

02 Aug 2022

Cabinet secretary Simon Case has been asked to explain what has happened to an investigation that was being undertaken by the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministers’ standards, Christopher Geidt, when he dramatically quit the role in June.

Members of parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee were told about an outstanding “live investigation” when Case and Cabinet Office director general for propriety and ethics Darren Tierney appeared before them just over a month ago.

The session took place two weeks after Lord Geidt became Boris Johnson’s second standards adviser to resign in less than two years – and just over a week before the PM was forced to announce his own resignation over his handling of the Chris Pincher affair.

Now MPs have demanded a progress report on the incomplete standards investigation from Case, whose role includes advising the prime minister on the application of ministerial standards in the absence of an independent adviser.

In a letter to the cab sec dated 19 July – but only published last week – PACAC chair William Wragg called on the cabinet secretary to detail the stage the incomplete inquiry had reached when Geidt walked out, saying he had been put in an “impossible and odious position” by the PM.

Wragg notes that the terms of reference for the independent adviser require findings to be published in a “timely manner”.

“If the outstanding inquiry was completed before Lord Geidt resigned, does the requirement for timely publication remain and, if so,  whose responsibility is it to ensure publication?” he asks.

“If the inquiry was not finished before Lord Geidt’s resignation, was a draft or interim report produced and, if so, will those involved in the case be informed of its contents? If so, whose responsibility is it to do so and what is the timescale for doing so?”

Wragg also asked what the process would be if Geidt had only got to an earlier stage of the inquiry process when he quit after barely more than a year in post.

“If the inquiry remains unfinished, can you please set out the process by which an incoming IA will resume the inquiry,” he wrote.

Wragg asked Case to specifically address whether the new independent adviser would pick up Geidt’s work or start a fresh process, and whether consent would be required from those involved in the case for Geidt’s successor to assess their documents.

The letter did not give a deadline for the cabinet secretary to respond.

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