Former Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell told the Daily Politics last week that “we need to be proud of our Civil Service – it’s impartial, it’s objective, it’s honest”. GOD had been confronted with a bruising column from Thursday’s Telegraph that attacked a mid-ranking Civil Servant who had addressed the weekly meeting of Permanent Secretaries, known in the trade as “Wednesday Morning Colleagues”.
Gus reassured the BBC that he “would be very annoyed about that particular meeting [leaking]” and said although it “happens every week” it “never, ever gets out…”. Really Gus? Never, ever?
Back in April 2010 the FT recounted comments from exactly that meeting. Sue Cameron was leaked a snippet from the “regular Wednesday morning meetings”. She was told that “Sir Gus O’Donnell, the present cabinet secretary, gave his colleagues a solemn undertaking. If Prime Minister Gordon Brown is forced to resign after the election, Sir Gus will not be breaking into tears”. How very impartial.
A few months later Sue Cameron was leaked another poisonous attack. This particular piece recounts how Sir Gus “demanded an explanation [over some matter] from Mr Heywood at the mandarins’ regular Wednesday morning meeting”. Gus came out of this piece frightfully well while Sir Jeremy was left rather bruised. Yes, Gus those meetings never, ever, ever leak do they? What was that about honesty…