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Thursday 01 July 2021

FDA criticises denial of “natural justice” in Boardman Inquiry

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has responded to concerns raised by Lady Heywood that the Greensill inquiry will “dump the blame" on her late husband, Lord Jeremy Heywood, arguing that "Nigel Boardman could and should have ensured that someone was appointed to represent Sir Jeremy’s interests".  

In comments reported in the Guardian and Civil Service World, Penman said: “The Nigel Boardman inquiry was set up to understand the origins of a scandal that ended with a former Prime Minister pleading for tax payer cash for his employer. As the details unfolded, two things became clear. Firstly, that the late Sir Jeremy Heywood would be a central figure in the origins of Greensill’s involvement with government. Secondly, that fingers were very quickly being pointed at the civil service to distract from the inconvenient truth that David Cameron sought, and was granted, privileged access to cabinet ministers."

Penman went on to argue that, regardless of whether Heywood was a former Cabinet Secretary or junior civil servant, the inquiry had a duty to ensure that representations could be made on his behalf: "This is not only a matter of ensuring 'natural justice' for a key figure in the investigation who is sadly unable to represent his own interests. It is also critical to ensure that we have the fullest picture of events of more than a decade ago, including challenging the evidence of other witnesses.

“Nigel Boardman could and should have ensured that someone was appointed to represent Sir Jeremy’s interests, with access to documentation and the civil servants who were involved. The refusal to do so will only serve to undermine the credibility of an inquiry that may well have fair criticisms of Sir Jeremy."

Penman concluded that the situation would "do nothing to challenge the impression that the scapegoating of an official no longer around to defend himself was just too tempting an opportunity to pass up.” 
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