Stephen Twigg writes to DfE Permanent Secretary over @Toryeducation “extortion” claims

February 11, 2013 4:52 pm

The questions rage on about the behaviour of Tory Spads and the now infamous @Toryeducation Twitter account. The latest development is a letter from Stephen Twigg to the DfE Permanent Secretary, regarding “a very serious allegation – of extortion – against someone who I understand is still working at the Department.” The letter is published below in full:

 

Chris Wormald

Permanent Secretary

Department for Education

Sanctuary Buildings

Great Smith Street

London SW1P 3BT

11 February 2013

Dear Chris,

You will be aware of a report in The Observer this weekend regarding claims of intimidation by Dominic Cummings, Special Adviser to the Secretary of State and James Frayne, the former Director of Communications at the Department for Education which resulted in a payout of £25,000 to the claimant.

The Education Secretary was asked by Ian Mearns MP during an evidence session of the Education Select Committee on 23 January 2013, if he was aware of “allegations of SpAds acting inappropriately to civil servants within the Department”. He denied any knowledge.

Could I ask you to confirm who took responsibility in the Department for the £25,000 payout and that the Secretary of State was not informed of the case?

The twitter account named @toryeducation has continued to make personal attacks, including about this case. It has been claimed that this twitter feed is updated by Dominic Cummings.

The account appears to know details of the case, which were not been made public in the Observer report, specifically that the case allegedly involved a woman. On 9 February at 9:11pm, it tweeted:

“Pop quiz Mulholland: do u think Cummings said ‘pay her off secretly’ or ‘fight the case publicly’?”

The account tweeted at 6:54am yesterday, that the bullying case was a “shakedown” following redundancies in the department:

“One of them brings standard shakedown legal case v DfE”

That is a very serious allegation – of extortion – against someone who I understand is still working at the Department.

Have you investigated who is responsible for updating the @toryeducation account?

You will be aware that both special advisers and civil servants are bound by a code of conduct, which precludes them from making personal attacks.

Three weeks ago I wrote suggesting that you to launch an investigation into the briefing against Tim Loughton. I am yet to receive a reply to this request. Can I ask what action has been taken to date?

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Twigg MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Latest

  • News Chris Leslie rules out raising National Insurance to pay for social care

    Chris Leslie rules out raising National Insurance to pay for social care

    The possibility of Labour pledging a specific tax to raise money for NHS spending resurfaced this weekend, with Ed Miliband apparently believing that the NHS is going to be a major issue in 2015. The supposed likely tax rise would be in National Insurance, and this has raised some debate on LabourList this summer, with MP Frank Field supporting the idea, while Andrew Harrop and Adebusuyi Adeyemi have both warned against it. In a revealing interview with Progress magazine, Shadow Chief […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Free School Meals: let’s avoid the sour grapes

    Free School Meals: let’s avoid the sour grapes

    This time last year, the government announced that it would introduce free school meals for all infant school children before the next election. The policy had been endorsed by the School Food Plan commissioned by Gove. It was being championed by the Lib Dems and brought forward so it could be implemented before the 2015 election in what appeared to be a pre-conference deal between the coalition partners. This week 1.5million children in infant schools in England, including my six year […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Weekly survey: Crime commissioners, Douglas Carswell and Labour defections

    Weekly survey: Crime commissioners, Douglas Carswell and Labour defections

    The role of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) has been in the news lately, with the low turnout at the recent West Midlands by-election and the Rotherham abuse scandal becoming focussed on the refusal to quit by the South Yorkshire PCC Shaun Wright. LabourList reported this weekend that Labour are planning to abolish PCCs after the election next year. Should the role be discontinued? Or is there just a better way of making them work? The defection of Douglas Carswell […]

    Read more →
  • Comment It shouldn’t cost so much to be a candidate

    It shouldn’t cost so much to be a candidate

    I love the Labour party. I enjoy canvassing, I pay my subs, go to the various fundraising dinners and vote in National Executive Committee (NEC) elections. I, like many, hate the constant barrage of ‘please donate’ emails and fear the dreaded fundraising call. And if I feel like that, imagine the dread felt by a candidate when they receive such a call. Don’t believe that happens? Hard to believe as it is, on more than one occasion now I have […]

    Read more →
  • News Jim Murphy resumes “100 streets” referendum tour after nationalist abuse

    Jim Murphy resumes “100 streets” referendum tour after nationalist abuse

    Jim Murphy is resuming his soapbox street meetings tour of Scotland tomorrow, after suspending it last week in the face of increasing co-ordinated abuse by supporters of independence. These protests at Murphy’s open-air meetings came to the attention of the media (and the police) when the Shadow Defence Secretary was hit with eggs last week. In a blog for the Spectator this weekend, Murphy explains how the organised groups go beyond the “normal cut and thrust” of politics that the meetings […]

    Read more →