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

11th February, 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

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