Nick Clegg’s use of civil service resources to prep for tonight’s debate with Nigel Farage is escalating into a full blown row, with Labour writing to the Cabinet Office permanent secretary to demand answers:
Dear Mr Heaton,
I am writing in response to allegations that the Deputy Prime Minister may have been assisted in his preparations for ‘The LBC Leaders’ Debate’ tonight, in which he is participating in his capacity as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.
As you will know, this debate is a purely party political matter being contested between two Party Leaders in advance of European elections on May 22nd. Indeed, Mr Clegg makes clear that he is participating on behalf of his party in his article in the Daily Mirror today when he says, “Liberal Democrats want Britain to stay in the EU because we are fighting for Britain”.
A Liberal Democrat spokesman has told the website Guido Fawkes:
“[Mr Clegg] has been given factual briefings and facts and figures on Coalition Government policy and how the EU works in relation to Britain.”
If it is the case that work has been commissioned by Nick Clegg or his office from civil servants for the purposes of preparation for ‘The LBC Leaders’ Debate’, Mr Clegg may be in breach of the Ministerial Code, which states:
6.1 Facilities provided to Ministers at Government expense to enable them to carry out their official duties should not be used for Party or constituency work.
6.3 Official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political.
In light of this, it is a matter of urgency that we are given reassurances that all rules have been followed and so I would be grateful if you would answer the following questions:
- What information has been requested by Nick Clegg or members of his staff from civil servants regarding how the EU works in relation to Britain over the last month, and have these requests increased compared to previous months?
- How many civil servants and from what Departments have provided written or verbal briefing to Mr Clegg regarding how the EU works in relation to Britain over the last month and for what purposes?
- How many meetings with civil servants has Mr Clegg had in the last month regarding how the EU works in relation to Britain, from which Departments and for what purposes?
- How many civil servants, from what Departments and over what duration have knowingly provided support for Mr Clegg in preparation for tonight’s ‘The LBC Leaders’ Debate’?
It would be deeply serious if the Leader of the Liberal Democrats were found to have used his senior government position to benefit from taxpayer-funded resources in advance of a political debate to further his electioneering interests.
Sheila Gilmore MP
A UKIP spokesperson tells Guido this is an “establishment stitch up”. We could get to the truth if someone were to ask Clegg what happened this evening…