Dowden: No Further Punishment For Hancock’s Rule-Breaking Jungle Romp

Now that the dust has settled on Matt Hancock’s jungle romp, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden has written to ACoBA Chair Lord Pickles to offer the final word on the former Health Secretary’s testicle-eating rule-breaking. In a new letter published last night, Dowden agreed that Hancock had breached Business Appointment Rules by “failing to seek the Committee’s advice” before jetting off to Australia:

I agree that undertaking a series of short-term appearances on the assumption they constitute ‘one-off’ engagements should not be used as means of not complying with the Rules. It is vital that all individuals who have held Ministerial positions are seen to abide by the requirement to seek advice about any appointments or employment they wish to take up within two years of leaving office.

He did, however, add that Matt’s newfound celebrity was a low-risk gig, so similar applications to the Committee in future should be “streamlined“. Good news for any other MPs who fancy bathing in cockroaches. He signed off by saying Hancock had suffered enough, and no further punishment would be necessary…

“Due to the highly visible nature of the roles and minimal risks to the integrity of government, we agree with the Committee’s advice that further action would be disproportionate in this case.”

Hancock’s spokesperson said:

“Matt’s glad they are now changing the ACOBA rules after the total muddle they got themselves into. Matt clearly followed the rules when he went into the jungle, as any cursory glance at their website demonstrates. The idea there’s a business conflict going onto the programme is absurd. Now they’re updating the rules to make that completely clear, not a moment too soon.”

Just in time for SAS: Who Dares Wins…

Read Dowden’s full letter below:

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mdi-timer 22 December 2022 @ 08:58 22 Dec 2022 @ 08:58 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Boris’s New Speaking Gig May Breach Government Rules

As leopards can’t change their spots, Boris just can’t stop coming up a cropper with government standards. This morning, Guido reported that the former PM has already embarked on his post-Downing Street speaking gigs, signing up to The Premium Speakers Agency and charging $150,000 for a speech in Colorado last night. So far, so expected…

One former minister has been in touch with Guido to point out the problem with this speech: the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. Their rules for former public figures make it very clear that anyone who leaves office must wait a minimum of three months from that date before taking up an appointment or employment. The same rules also state that while one-off speeches, broadcasts or newspaper articles don’t count as employment …

” … if applicants intend to enter into a longer term arrangement, e.g. to join a speakers’ agency, plan a series of remunerated speeches or write a regular newspaper column, they should submit an application before accepting this work.”

Unlike Boris, Theresa May left No. 10 and contacted ACoBA in September 2019 to ask about joining the Washington Speakers Bureau. Her register of interests shows that she didn’t give any paid speeches until December that year.

Guido’s peeved ex-minister asks why they should have to obey the rules if others, like Boris, can just ignore them. Eric Pickles, you have your work cut out for you…

Guido has contacted Boris’s new office putting the allegations of forgetfulness to him…

UPDATE: Sources close to Boris point out the speakers’ agency listing has now been deleted and the site has a record of putting up speakers who aren’t on their books. It remains to be seen whether he’s formally signed up to another agency, and whether he’ll be doing other well-paid speaking gigs before the three months is up… 

mdi-timer 12 October 2022 @ 10:54 12 Oct 2022 @ 10:54 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Hammond Hammered Over Breach of Ministerial Code

Lord Pickles’s ACOBA has admonished former Chancellor Philip Hammond for breaking rules on post-cabinet jobs and lobbying. Last month Hammond was accused of breaching the ministerial code after lobbying one of his former senior officials on behalf of a paying client. Today Lord Pickles has published a letter to Hammond confirming it was:

“an unwise step to contact senior officials at the Treasury on OakNorth’s behalf… the use of your contacts in government in this way was not consistent with the intention of the Rules and was not acceptable.”

Remarkably, Hammond made it clear he was exploring legal action, possibly in the form of an injunct, to prevent ACoBA’s letter being published…

Hammond claimed that in contacting Charles Roxburgh, second permanent secretary at the Treasury, he was “neither seeking to influence policy, nor motivated by an attempt to secure business (or any other form of benefit)”. Pickles wryly comments he has no doubt Hammond “sincerely believed contact with your former department in this way was appropriate”.

“The Committee considers the use of your contacts in government in this way was not consistent with the intention of the Rules and was not acceptable. The material consideration is the privileged access you obtained for OakNorth not the commercial value of the proposition.”

On the same day we learn David Cameron’s still laughing all the way to the bank…

Read Lord Pickle’s letter in full below:

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mdi-timer 1 September 2021 @ 12:26 1 Sep 2021 @ 12:26 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Cummings Reported to Cabinet Office for Substack Rule Breaking

Eric Pickles in his capacity of Chair of ACoBA has slammed Dominic Cummings for breaking rules on post-No. 10 appointments. In a letter to Cummings last month, Pickles noted he is now offering “various services for payment via a blog hosted on Substack”, which he appears not to have consulted the committee about. Pickles told Cummings it:

appears you may be in breach of the Rules” and was asked for clarification “so the Committee can understand the circumstances behind your apparent failure to seek and await for advice before promoting and receiving payment for your services”

Cummings was ordered to reply by the 5th July – he failed to do so. 

Pickles has subsequently reported Cummings to Michael Gove in his capacity as Cabinet Office minister given Boris’s former top advisor has now broken the government’s rules by failing to provide an explanation to ACoBA. Pickles says “it is now a matter for the government to decide what appropriate action to take”…

Read Pickles’ letter to Gove in full:

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mdi-timer 12 July 2021 @ 15:23 12 Jul 2021 @ 15:23 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Pickles Warned Ministers about Potential Scandal “for Some Time”

Giving evidence to parliament’s Constitution and Public Affairs Select Committee, Eric Pickles claimed he has been warning ministers and the government about the potential for a scandal involving lobbying and corporate appointments within the civil service for some time, however he didn’t expect it to arise from so high up within Whitehall.

“I have been warning about the possibility of a scandal with regard to this for some time. If I’m being absolutely candid with you, this is not where I expected it to come from.”

Pressed on this, Pickles claims he believed the scandal would come from lower down in the civil service, with 34,000 civil servants leaving in 2020, just 108 of whom were then investigated by ACOBA when taking up new jobs. Pickles is calling for immediate changes, regardless of the No. 10 inquiry:


There was one moment of light-heartedness, however, as Pickles’ computer took to accidentally answering questions for him…

mdi-timer 15 April 2021 @ 10:42 15 Apr 2021 @ 10:42 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Former Ministers Bollocked over Rule-Breaking Second Jobs

Eric Pickles’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) has admonished two former ministers for taking on second jobs without first consulting the committee, as per the official ministerial rules. According to the anti-corruption watchdog, both Stephen Hammond and George Freeman failed to seek advice from Pickles when taking on extra roles within the two year grace period of leaving office. In terms the Wimbledon MP might understand, that’s 30-love to Pickles….

A letter written to Freeman, published last week, accuses the former transport minister of breaching the rules after taking £5,000 from Aerosol Shield Ltd in June 2020, just four months after leaving government. The notoriously wet MP was reminded the “rules exist to protect the integrity of government”

Ultra Remainer Stephen Hammond, who lost the whip in 2019, got an even bigger bollocking from the committee last night for failing to seek their advice before taking a £100-an-hour job with think tank Public Policy Projects. According to Pickles’s letter:

“The Committee regards it as unacceptable you did not seek advice as you were required to for your original role with PPP. This is a breach of the Government’s Rules, and the requirement set out in the Ministerial Code.”

Conversely, Former Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith set an example to Hammond and Freeman this morning, getting permission to take up a new role at Simply Blue Management Ltd. after consulting the committee in line with the rules. Lining your pockets is a bureaucracy-laden business these days…

mdi-timer 2 February 2021 @ 11:35 2 Feb 2021 @ 11:35 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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