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Letter: Guildford’s MP is in a No-win Situation But Can We Trust the Inquiry?

Published on: 14 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 14 Jan, 2022

From: Anthony Mallard

In response to: Lib Dem Candidate Calls for Prime Minister’s Resignation

Sadly, this debacle has brought discredit, not only to the Conservative party but also to the country and further eroded the public’s trust in the government and parliamentarians.

Unfortunately, Angela Richardson is in a no-win situation because, generally, MPs appear to put loyalty to one another above the interests of the country and their constituents.

To deviate from this position may result in the whip being withdrawn and this would negatively affect Ms Richardson’s ability to represent her constituents.

Her position of wait and see, whilst not the most satisfactory answer, is, as a consequence of the misguided culture in Parliament, the wisest course.

I have no reason to call into question the integrity of the individual who is undertaking the Cabinet Office inquiry and we must await the outcome. But the inquiry has been commissioned by the prime minister, who will doubtless have set the terms of reference, tightly, I suspect. Once complete, the report will ultimately be presented to the PM and that does not seem to me to be satisfactory.

We appear to have a situation where one of the main players, who may or may not have breached the Covid rules and possibly broken the law, chooses the individual to conduct the inquiry and sets the terms of reference.

Doubtless, he will receive the draft report to ensure the accuracy of facts, with the ability to massage aspects of the wording to nuance any criticisms and to suggest changes. Then he will be the arbiter of the outcome.

This appears to fly in the face of independence and natural justice. Where else would such an incestuous inquiry be acceptable? I look forward to reading the report and having my somewhat jaundiced viewpoint proved wrong.

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Responses to Letter: Guildford’s MP is in a No-win Situation But Can We Trust the Inquiry?

  1. RWL Davies Reply

    January 14, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    The “Rolls-Royce” civil service is independent so the civil servant leading the inquiry can be trusted to resist manipulation and pressures to massage any terms of reference and draft conclusions.

    “Wait and see” at this febrile stage in the matter is the correct approach.

    And, there’ll be leaks to keep people informed.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      January 16, 2022 at 4:15 pm

      The only person left who believes the civil service is a “Rolls-Royce” is Sir Humphrey Appleby.

      Frederick Forsyth calls it a “clapped out Trabant”.

      His comment is closer to the mark: “So Boris Johnson intends a root-and-branch reformation of Britain’s torpid national bureaucracy. Well good luck to him. Several premiers have tried before and all have failed. Sir Humphrey Appleby – a glorious pastiche but so accurate – always wins in the end. So far Sir Plod has won because he can always threaten that if the mandarins withdraw their hourly guidance the politician is dead in the water.

      Since forever we have been told we British have a Rolls-Royce of a civil service. But who tells us this? Why, the bureaucrats themselves. As the Covid crisis has proved, it is more like a clapped-out Trabant.”

      As Del Boy would say, Boris has been a plonker. But weren’t most of the people partying civil servants?

  2. Michael Ney Reply

    January 15, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    Don’t expect our MP to make any adverse comment; she is a dyed in the wool Boris loyalist and will back him to the hilt.

  3. John Perkins Reply

    January 15, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    The Civil Service ceased to be independent when it was politicised by Tony Blair.

  4. Brian Creese, Guildford Labour Party Reply

    January 15, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    I have to agree with Anthony Mallard, Sue Grey has been put in an impossible situation. Both her civil service boss and the head of the government will be covered in her report, and the prime minister himself will have to approve and sign it off.

    If the public is to have any faith in the findings, surely it is clear that what is needed is an independent report, probably headed by a retired judge. To put so much on the head of a career civil servant is frankly irresponsible and bound to fail, whatever she says.

    It is all just a delaying tactic given that for most of us it is unnecessary to have an inquiry for us to remember what parties we have been to or knew about.

    Brian Creese is the chair of Guildford Labour

  5. Lisa Wright Reply

    January 18, 2022 at 2:37 pm

    It’s ridiculous.

    We had an inquiry into one of the councillors at Guildford which amusingly, decided there was “no wrongdoing”. It wasn’t until the police did a proper investigation and brought charges that a conviction was secured at the Old Bailey.

    I don’t see any reason to believe that people marking their own homework, regardless of the government department they work for, will only find a shiny clean outcome. If the Metropolitan Police are unwilling to take this breach of the rules seriously then I’m afraid there’s nothing anyone else can do.

    However, as always, we have the ability to remove any politician from their post with a general election and if our MP Ms Richardson doesn’t want to condemn the Downing Street Parties now, I would expect her to be packing her bags very soon.

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