PM’s new standards adviser ‘blocked’ from answering questions

Cabinet secretary asked why department intervened to stop Lord Geidt from responding to MPs’ questionnaire
Lord Christopher Geidt gives evidence to MPs earlier this month

By Jim Dunton

28 May 2021

Boris Johnson’s new independent adviser on ministerial standards was blocked from answering parts of a questionnaire sent to him by MPs ahead of his appearance before a parliamentary committee, it has emerged.

Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee chair William Wragg made the observation in a letter to cabinet secretary Simon Case – and is demanding to know why the Cabinet Office intervened ahead of Lord Christopher Geidt’s evidence session earlier this month.

In a just published letter from Wragg to Case, the MP said he found it “strange” that the department should have sought to guide the behaviour of a witness.

“The committee sent Lord Geidt a questionnaire before the evidence session. He wrote and answered many of the questions but under the advice of Cabinet Office he did not complete the questionnaire,” Wragg wrote.

“I would be grateful to understand why he was given such advice – although there is no formal agreement for a pre-appointment session for this post, committees may write to any witness and ask them for any information and I find it strange that Cabinet Office felt the need to intervene in this process.”

Geidt is the successor to former independent adviser on ministerial standards Sir Alex Allan, who resigned after the publication of his report that found home secretary Priti Patel had bullied staff at the Home Office. Johnson decided Patel had not broken the ministerial code despite Allan’s findings.

Geidt is due to publish the findings of his investigations into the refurbishment of Johsnon’s Downing Street flat in the coming days.

PACAC has yet to publish a reply from Case in answer to Wragg’s letter.  

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