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:
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:
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:
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…
Sir Eric uses his last PMQ to great effect…
Downing Street wheeled out Eric Pickles last night to stick the boot into the Vote Leave campaign, hyperbolically blasting the pro-Brexit student protesters as being part of a “nasty… strategy of intimidation“. Pickles is calling on the Electoral Commission to deny Vote Leave the official Leave campaign designation:
“I believe the actions of Vote Leave in disrupting the CBI conference and declaring a strategy of intimidation and protest disqualify Vote Leave from being a designated lead campaigner in the forthcoming EU referendum campaign.”
That would be the same Eric Pickles who was the subject of a complaint by the Cabinet Secretary to David Cameron after his SpAds were accused of behaving “unacceptably” by briefing against a senior public servant.
The same Tory party that openly called on its youth wing to deliberately “form our own publicity stunt” and disrupt Gordon Brown’s announcement of Labour’s election slogan back in 2010.
The same Tories who sent CCHQ staffers to Trafalgar Square to hold up ‘Vote for Change’ placards for the television cameras as Gordon made his way down Pall Mall to see the Queen.
The same Tories who followed Miliband around with Salmond and Sturgeon masks during the election, facing allegations that anti-Labour protesters shoved the then Labour leader.
The same Tories who snuck a Conservative activist into Question Time to lay into Miliband on prime time television.
If arranging for two teenagers to hold up a banner during a speech is “nasty”, what does that make the Tories’ own campaign tactics?