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

Jo Swinson on Chris Rennard…

“Vince — and Tim before him — have repeatedly, publicly said Rennard is not welcome anywhere near their frontbench team, even as an adviser. I remain deeply frustrated that he was not expelled from the party through its disciplinary process. It just feels wrong, and I do not want Lord Rennard to continue as a member of the party. As far as I am concerned, he is not welcome.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
Watch: Corbyn’s Black Rod Message Backfires Watch: Corbyn’s Black Rod Message Backfires
Budget Pic Budget Pic
Putin: Alex Salmond is Not a Kremlin Propagandist Putin: Alex Salmond is Not a Kremlin Propagandist
Gilbert and George Come Out as Brexiteers Gilbert and George Come Out as Brexiteers
Rudd Missed Key Brexit Vote Last Night Rudd Missed Key Brexit Vote Last Night
Top Corbynista Compares Mugabe to Queen Top Corbynista Compares Mugabe to Queen
Owen, Piers, Guido Three-Way Owen, Piers, Guido Three-Way
EU Game Teaches Kids to “Collect More Taxes” EU Game Teaches Kids to “Collect More Taxes”
Kezia: I’m A Hypocrite, Get Me Out of Here Kezia: I’m A Hypocrite, Get Me Out of Here
Siemens to Cut European Jobs, Expand in UK Siemens to Cut European Jobs, Expand in UK
WATCH: DD Meets Cliff Edge WATCH: DD Meets Cliff Edge
Momentum Plot to Treble Council Tax For 15,000 Households in Bristol Momentum Plot to Treble Council Tax For 15,000 Households in Bristol
75% of European Medicines Agency Staff Want to Stay in London 75% of European Medicines Agency Staff Want to Stay in London
Newsnight’s Royal Farce Newsnight’s Royal Farce
MPs’ Security Costs Rise 1395% MPs’ Security Costs Rise 1395%
Just 12% of MPs Vote to Stay in Customs Union Just 12% of MPs Vote to Stay in Customs Union
WATCH Scottish Labour Leader: “I Support England” WATCH Scottish Labour Leader: “I Support England”
Majority Think Work Porn “Career Ending” Majority Think Work Porn “Career Ending”
Paperchase Faces Backlash After Bowing to Anti-Press Freedom Cranks Paperchase Faces Backlash After Bowing to Anti-Press Freedom Cranks
WATCH: Moment Stephen Kinnock Realises Corbyn Is Staying WATCH: Moment Stephen Kinnock Realises Corbyn Is Staying