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Monday 15 May 2017

FDA slams “cowardly” attacks on civil servants

The FDA has leapt to the defence of a senior civil servant after his departure from Whitehall was trailed by negative briefings to the press from anonymous political sources.

Sir Mark Lowcock’s resignation as Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Development – a job he has held since 2011 – was officially confirmed in May. Lowcock is to take on a new role at the United Nations, with DfID's Nick Dyer stepping up to lead the department in the interim.

However, news of Lowcock’s departure was given to the media a day before the official announcement, accompanied by quotes from anonymous figures criticising his performance.

Responding to the media coverage, in a statement that was picked up by the Daily Express and Civil Service World, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said: "Once again we are witness to the unedifying spectacle of committed public servants being undermined and attacked through 'anonymous' sources close to ministers.

"All too often this particular brand of political cowardice rears its ugly head as ministers feel the pressure to look for a convenient scapegoat,” he added. "Instead of preaching about leadership it's time some politicians demonstrated it and publicly defended their staff from these unwarranted, vicious attacks."

Speaking at the FDA’s Annual Delegate Conference in May, Penman also hit out at the failure of ministers to defend officials after the departure of Sir Ivan Rogers as the UK’s most senior diplomat in Brussels.

He said: “You don't get a strong civil service by sending out former ministers to tramp around the TV studios trashing the reputation of civil servants for having the audacity to speak truth unto power, whilst ministers stay silent, refusing to voice their support and giving those attacks their tacit approval.”

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