No investigation has been opened into allegations that Boris Johnson tried to appoint his then-girlfriend to a senior government post, the civil service chief has confirmed.
Simon Case told a Commons committee it was up to the Prime Minister himself to order an inquiry into his alleged attempt to appoint Carrie Symonds – now his wife – his £100,000-a-year chief of staff as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
To laughter from members of the all-party public administration committee, committee chairman William Wragg asked the cabinet secretary: “Isn’t he enthusiastic?”
Labor committee member John McDonnell said the allegations amounted to “a potential gross abuse of power” and demanded to know why no investigation had been carried out to establish whether they were true.
Mr Case replied: ‘An inquiry under the Ministerial Code, under the current rubric, can only be authorized by the Prime Minister.
“I have no right to initiate investigations.”
Mr McDonnell said the Prime Minister’s former independent ethics adviser, Lord Geidt, had described the job vacancies reports as “ready to investigate”.
And he asked Mr. Case: “Do you have any responsibility, as the highest official in government, to uphold the standards?”
“Here we have a potential breach of basic standards by someone in high office and a former ethics counselor says it’s ‘ripe for investigation’ and you haven’t even told the Prime Minister about it.”
A seemingly annoyed Mr Case insisted he had shown responsibility and said he would not reveal whether he had discussed the matter with Mr Johnson.
All conversations between ministers and officials must remain private, he told the committee.
Mr McDonnell shot back: ‘I take that to mean you had this conversation. We all have a cross to bear.