Head of UK civil service fears partygate high quality, officers say

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Simon Case, head of the UK civil service, fears he’ll obtain a Metropolitan Police high quality for breaking coronavirus restrictions, senior officers stated, as they instructed he was searching for an escape route from Westminster. The cupboard secretary is one among a lot of senior authorities figures to obtain a questionnaire from the Met over the partygate scandal involving rule-breaking gatherings in Downing Road and Whitehall in 2020 and 2021. He was in attendance at a shock birthday gathering held for Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June 2020 when indoor social gatherings had been banned. The Met fined the prime minister, alongside along with his spouse Carrie and chancellor Rishi Sunak, for his or her attendance on the occasion.Greater than 100 partygate mounted penalty notices have been issued however Case has not acquired any. Nevertheless, three senior Whitehall officers informed the Monetary Occasions Case had informed colleagues of his “expectation” he may obtain one if the Met adopted the identical precedent for the prime minister and chancellor.One well-placed civil servant stated: “The actual fact Rishi [Sunak] was in that state of affairs and has been fined, a lot of individuals are asking ‘why hasn’t Simon been fined?’ He was in precisely the identical place.” One other stated: “Everyone seems to be braced for Simon probably being fined.”In response to queries about his future, the cupboard workplace stated: “The cupboard secretary’s complete focus is on main the civil service and delivering on the priorities of the federal government.”These concerned with the federal government’s response to the Met’s partygate fines stated there was “completely no discernible technique” to the order during which the Met was issuing fines, with interviews and questionnaires being issued for various occasions at totally different occasions.Case might due to this fact nonetheless be fined for the June 2020 occasion, weeks after Sunak and Johnson acquired and paid their mounted penalty notices for breaking Covid restrictions.If Case is fined, there’s a widespread expectation within the cupboard workplace and Downing Road that his place can be weak. Relations between Johnson and Case have frayed because the departure of the previous Quantity 10 chief aide Dominic Cummings. One particular person near the state of affairs stated: “His state of affairs would in all probability turn into untenable. How might he lead the civil service if he has discovered to have damaged the legislation?”Those that have spoken to Case a few potential high quality suppose his future would depend upon the political stress from Downing Road and the cupboard. “He can have methods in thoughts, however quite a lot of it’s going to depend upon political will,” one stated. One other stated: “If he stays, it might be depending on the cupboard not baying for his blood.”Case can be anticipated to face stress over administration of the federal government from an inner Whitehall inquiry into partygate being led by Sue Grey, a senior civil servant. If Case is compelled to stop over a high quality, colleagues consider it might be “fairly logical” for him to return to academia. Earlier than he joined the civil service, he undertook a PhD at Queen Mary College of London.However one official near Case denied that he was actively exploring alternatives outdoors Whitehall.If Johnson is compelled out over the partygate scandal, nevertheless, Case would possible search to remain on to keep up continuity in authorities and a clean switch of energy.One senior official stated: “There have been discussions in 70 Whitehall [home of the cabinet office] that if the PM needed to go, there’s a robust argument that Simon would keep for a interval to supervise a handover to a different PM earlier than inserting his future within the fingers of the brand new PM.”

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