Ethics Adviser “Found No Evidence” Spencer Broke Ministerial Code with Ghani Sacking

The Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests Sir Laurie Magnus has concluded Mark Spencer and the whips office did not break the Ministerial Code over the sacking of Nus Ghani in February 2020, following Ghani’s complaint that she had been let go because of her Muslim faith. The inquiry into Ghani’s allegations was launched by Boris around a year ago, with Magnus’s predecessor Lord Geidt initially in charge prior to his resignation. Laurie Magnus picked up the pieces following his appointment in December.

In letters between Magnus and the PM published today, Magnus concludes that while “there are procedural and pastoral lessons to be drawn from [his] investigation”, the “shortcomings” in Spencer’s response to the probe don’t amount to a clear breach:

My overall conclusion from this investigation is that what should have been an open and trusting conversation between colleagues instead became a significant disagreement which was escalated to the then Prime Minister and, 18 months later, reported in the media. I do not believe, when considered with the inconclusive evidence from the first two parts of this investigation, that the shortcomings identified in Mr Spencer’s response to Ms Ghani’s concerns amount to a clear failure to meet the standards set out in the Ministerial Code. However, there are procedural and pastoral lessons to be drawn from this investigation which should be considered by those engaged in handling ministerial appointments and dismissals in future.”

Magnus adds “it is not possible to conclude absolutely that such comments [about Ghani’s faith] were not made, but I have found no evidence.” Apparently, Ghani and Spencer have “very different” recollections of what happened. Given the lack of evidence, Rishi has confirmed in his response letter that no further action will be taken.

UPDATE: Ghani responds:

“Sir Laurie’s report is very clear that my evidence was credible and ‘consistent’. I’m relieved that the report acknowledges that the previously denied 4th March 2020 meeting did take place and was central to the matter, as well as that Twitter statements were published ‘without evidence’. There is no criticism or doubt expressed regarding my version of events. Others will have to explain the report noting the ‘omissions’, ‘shortcomings’, ‘incomplete information’, ‘inaccurate briefings’ and claims ‘implied without evidence’ in their actions and story. We all serve at the Prime Minister’s choosing and there is no shame in a political career ending. But to be told your faith and identity is the reason for it cannot be acceptable in any way.”

Read both letters below:

Read More

mdi-timer 6 April 2023 @ 14:36 6 Apr 2023 @ 14:36 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Mark Spencer: There May Be Some “Little Man in China” Listening to My Personal Calls

Defending Liz Truss’s phone hacking by the Russians, this morning food minister Mark Spencer told Sky News:

“We all talk on personal phones, don’t we, you know I ring my wife, maybe there’s some little man in China listening to my conversations between me and my wife.”

Guido hopes the ‘little man in China’ enjoys tuning in to No. 10’s incoming bollocking of Mark for that particular phrasing…

mdi-timer 31 October 2022 @ 08:11 31 Oct 2022 @ 08:11 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Mark Spencer Promises “Better” Tory Candidates at Next Election

Mark Spencer promising to select a “higher calibre” of candidates than in 2017 and 2019 for the next general election:

“I think we’ll be in a much better place at the next general election, certainly in the [Conservative] party as we will have taken much more time to scrutinise people. There will be a much longer process. I don’t think having two rapid general elections in a row has helped parliamentary parties.”

mdi-timer 11 May 2022 @ 16:46 11 May 2022 @ 16:46 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Government Tells Bryant to Shove his ‘Respect’ Principle Proposals

Yesterday it emerged the government’s dropped plans to limit MPs’ earnings from second jobs following the Geoffrey Cox row last year. Beyond their opposition to this proposed reform, Guido spots the government has also stuck two fingers up at another proposal from Chris Bryant – to add “respect” to the parliamentary behaviour code, to “demonstrate anti-discriminatory attitudes and behaviours through the promotion of anti-racism, inclusion and diversity”. All very wet…

Looking through the government’s response, Guido notes Stephen Barclay and Mark Spencer have strongly rejected the proposal on the grounds of free speech:

“we think it is of overarching importance to emphasise tolerance of different viewpoints and protect free debate when considering any changes.

We would not want to stifle legitimate debate on politically contentious issues which are important to our democracy – as an indirect consequence of the proposed new requirement for ‘anti-discriminatory attitudes’ or demonstrating ‘inclusion and diversity’. This could have a chilling effect on free speech on contentious and polarised political issues. This has recently been illustrated in the Lords, in the controversy over the role of the Lords Standards Commissioner in relation to a complaint made against four peers for comments they made in a debate. Even if a Members’ views or opinions are not in scope of the standards process, such a provision risks generating partisan complaints that could ultimately discourage Members’ free speech on highly contentious matters of public policy.”

This point is something supported by the Free Speech Union, who submitted evidence as part of the consultation arguing against adding the ‘respect’ principle, which would “attempt to regulate the ‘attitudes’ of MPs, i.e., their views and opinions.” Presumably it would also prevent Boris from correctly calling out Starmer’s role in the CPS’s failure to prosecute Jimmy Saville…

mdi-timer 18 March 2022 @ 12:10 18 Mar 2022 @ 12:10 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Mark Spencer and Theresa May’s Festive Greetings

Guido’s got his hands on more parliamentary Christmas cards, this time from both the Chief Whip Mark Spencer and Lady May. Here’s Mark Spencer’s, which has gone down well with colleagues…

Theresa’s, meanwhile, was a bit more tame…

T’is the season…

mdi-timer 8 December 2021 @ 11:23 8 Dec 2021 @ 11:23 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Tories’ Post-Paterson Poll Plummet

For those claiming the Paterson row wouldn’t cut through with the public, look away now: the first poll to be conducted after the fiasco is out and the Tories have crashed to a 1% lead. The 2.5% swing sees Labour up two points to 35% and the Tories down three to 36%, the smallest Tory lead for The Times since Rishi’s social care tax rise in September. 22% of 2019 Tory voters are now undecided about who to vote for…

The dust is still settling on the explosive affair, with outlets following up Guido’s first report yesterday of mass outrage directed at the Chief Whip. Last night Downing Street said they were standing by Mark Spencer, which is a more likely sign than any that the death knell tolls for his job. Meanwhile The Times reports Boris resorted to asking SpAds last night how he had been put in this position. A PM should not have to ask that question…

mdi-timer 5 November 2021 @ 08:52 5 Nov 2021 @ 08:52 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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