Sir Cover-Up, Sir Craig and the Curious Case of His Memoirs

The rules for a former Special Adviser wanting to write a book on their time in government are very clear: Sir Jeremy Heywood must give his personal approval. As the Code of Conduct for SpAds states: “The permission of the Cabinet Secretary must be sought before publishing, or entering into a contractual commitment to publish such memoirs”. Sir Craig Oliver’s memoirs, then, must have secured Heywood’s approval before the book deal was signed. Yet a year-long Freedom of Information campaign raises questions as to whether the rules were followed…

Sir Craig’s book is full of privileged information. It discusses the contents of a phone call between David Cameron and Barack Obama (pages 62-63). It discusses the contents of various Cabinet meetings (pages 95-96, pages 376-379). It discusses the contents of a meeting between Obama and the Cabinet (pages 196-197). Now, it has consistently been government policy, championed by Heywood, not to release details of conversations between the PM and US Presidents, or to release details of Cabinet discussions. A co-conspirator tested this by sending a very specific FoI request seeking the exact same information published in Sir Craig’s book. The Cabinet Office refused to disclose it on grounds of “prejudicing relations between the UK and any other State” and protecting Cabinet privacy.

So the Cabinet Office is on record that releasing this specific information could prejudice relations with the US. Why, then, was Sir Craig allowed to publish it?

Guido’s co-conspirator has spent the last year trying to find out. On 3 November 2016, in response to another FoI request, the Cabinet Office said Sir Craig “followed the process for publishing personal memoirs as set out in the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers”. In other words, nothing to see here.

Yet eight months later, in response to an internal review of the FoI response, on 27 July 2017 the Cabinet Office was forced to admit it “does not hold any recorded information to show there was a discussion prior to Mr Oliver signing a contract with a publisher”.

Hang on a minute. If there is no record in the Cabinet Office of any discussion prior to Sir Craig signing his book deal, how can he have possibly “followed the process” which requires “the permission of the Cabinet Secretary” before “entering into a contractual commitment”Uh oh…

The Cabinet Office say Sir Craig did submit his manuscript before publication, meaning Heywood could have prevented the release of restricted information but chose not to do so. This all raises several questions. First, Sir Craig could be in big trouble if the rules on securing permission before signing a book deal were not followed, as the Cabinet Office appeared to admit. Indeed the government has seized the profits of books which breached the rules before – an outcome which definitely wouldn’t be hilarious. Secondly, if Heywood did sign the book off prior to publication, why did he sanction the release of privileged information that the Cabinet Office says “prejudices relations” between the UK and US? It is hard to see how Sir Craig and Sir Cover-Up can both have kept to the rules. This could unleash some demons…




Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

President Trump on May’s Brexit deal:

“I would say that Brexit is Brexit. … The people voted to break it up. So I would imagine that’s what they’ll do. But maybe they’ll take a different route, I’m not sure that’s what they voted for.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
Paul Mason Reported to Police Paul Mason Reported to Police
Etonian Free Cabinet Etonian Free Cabinet
Tory MP Puts Letter In to Brady Tory MP Puts Letter In to Brady
Lord Carrington Lord Carrington
Poll: May’s Deal or No Deal? Poll: May’s Deal or No Deal?
Labour’s Chequers Survival Kit Labour’s Chequers Survival Kit
Whips’ Patsies in Full Whips’ Patsies in Full
Tories Will Lose Votes if They Cross Brexit Red Lines Tories Will Lose Votes if They Cross Brexit Red Lines
Remain Used Same Spending Tactics as Leave But Far Worse Remain Used Same Spending Tactics as Leave But Far Worse
Paul Mason’s Coming Home to England Paul Mason’s Coming Home to England
Penny’s Sign Language at Despatch Box Penny’s Sign Language at Despatch Box
Lefties Disappointed as England Win Lefties Disappointed as England Win
SNP Plot to Ruin England Match SNP Plot to Ruin England Match
MEPs Vote to Reject Transparency MEPs Vote to Reject Transparency
Labour Reinstate Jared Labour Reinstate Jared
Hancock Jumps on a Wall Hancock Jumps on a Wall
PM Runners and Riders PM Runners and Riders
Cabinet Brexiters Silent as Robbins Rubs Out Red Lines Cabinet Brexiters Silent as Robbins Rubs Out Red Lines
Cadwalladr and Collins to Share Platform at Byline Festival Cadwalladr and Collins to Share Platform at Byline Festival