Ministry of Justice Permanent Secretary Braces for Sacking

After Mark Sedwill’s sooner-than-expected departure from Downing Street yesterday, attention is turning to potential further mandarin overhauls instigated by from a bullish No. 10. The Ministry of Justice’s permanent secretary Sir Richard Heaton’s name was immediately floated.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee this afternoon, Heaton confirmed his contract is up for renewal next month after five years in the role, however claimed it is merely “speculation” whether his contract will or won’t be renewed. Guido suspects this is a brave public face from Sir Richard who knows in reality his fate is sealed…

The Permanent Secretary also threw civil service caution to the wind, saying there was under-investment in prison maintenance from 2010-17 and Britain is now “paying the consequences”. Guido spots this afternoon Heaton’s official Twitter account was quietly deleted. The behaviour of someone expecting to still have their job a month from now?

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Buckland’s Musical Ministry Metamorphosis

Robert Buckland’s official No. 10 profile lists music as one of his interests, something he proved to the world in December during a gung-ho performance of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and last September with a rendition of Danny Boy for his constituents. Guido worries his love of music may be swiftly becoming a distraction from the day job however…

At the weekend a Linkedin listing for the job of “Head of Probation Communications” at the department was advertised as a role at the “Ministry of Sound”. While an MoJ source blamed the job agency used by the department, Guido can’t be sure Buckland isn’t leaving hints for a reshuffle switch to DCMS…

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Gauke Refuses to Join Calls to Ban Worboys From London

David Gauke was under more pressure in the Commons today as MPs queued up to ask why he isn’t doing more to make sure John Worboys is banned from Greater London, where his hundreds of victims live. The Justice Secretary refused to back calls for a Greater London exclusion zone, despite the MoJ engaging with the licence conditions process on a daily basis. Why would Gauke not do the obviously right thing and endorse victims’ calls for an exclusion zone? Yet again a desperately weak response from the government…

UPDATE: Guido understands Gauke wrote to the Probation Service two weeks ago to ask them to consider if it is appropriate to exclude Worboys from Greater London. Not the same as demanding he is banned from the capital…

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“Absolute Disgrace” Worboys Victims Not Consulted About Licence Conditions

Significant developments in the John Worboys story this afternoon. It has been revealed that the sex attacker’s victims have not yet been allowed to make representations to the Parole Board about his licence conditions, despite the meeting to finalise the conditions taking place tomorrow. Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer from Slater and Gordon, which represented 11 of Worboys’ victims, is demanding to know why victims have received no notification of the meeting and insisting a ban is imposed on Worboys visiting Greater London. He has issued this extraordinarily damning statement accusing the criminal justice system of treating victims with “contempt“:

“It is unbelievable that Worboys’ victims have not been consulted on their attacker’s licence conditions when they are living in fear of his release. Considering the shambles of this sorry episode so far it is inexcusable that all victims have not been asked to make representations about his restrictions. Our clients already felt betrayed by the way they have been treated by the criminal justice system; they now feel like they are being treated with the utmost contempt. This is an absolute disgrace and we demand that all victims – those involved in the criminal trial and those who were not – are consulted before Worboys’ licence conditions are finalised.”

How can it be that victims have not yet been consulted on the conditions of Worboys’ licence? The Ministry of Justice is handling this spectacularly badly – they need to get a grip, it is in danger of blowing up into a national scandal…

UPDATE: A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said:

“The licence conditions for John Worboys have not been finalised, and he will not be released until victims have had an opportunity to make representations to the Parole Board on his licence conditions.”

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Ministry of Justice Loses Death Inquiry Data “In the Post”


In the least shocking news of the day a Government department has lost sensitive data after two discs containing documents relating to three inquiries were “dispatched by post”. Government officials discovered the discs were missing on the 8 January and despite intensive searches involving the police they have yet to recover them. Two of the inquiries relate to fatal police shootings, that of Azelle Rodney and Mark Duggan, while the third set of data came from the as yet unpublished investigation into the killing of Robert Hamill by a Loyalist mob in Northern Ireland.

The case has eerie similarities to 2007 and when the personal details of 25 million Brits went missing after again, two discs went “missing in the post”.

An independent review has been commissioned to look into the circumstances surrounding the loss and identify lessons that need to be learned. Taxpayers’ money well spent…

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