Armstrong, who was cabinet secretary under Margaret Thatcher, warned against asking civil service chiefs to investigate and report on controversies. “I twitch rather when the cabinet secretary is brought in as an arbiter,” he said. “He’s not, he’s an adviser, and in the end on the political things the arbiter has to be the prime minister.”
Armstrong’s successor Lord Butler has also criticised the use of top civil servants to investigate ministerial conduct (see news 11 April).
See also: Our feature on inquiries