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Friday 17 June 2022

Penman: It’s time scrutiny of ministerial conduct was dragged into the 21st century

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Ilyas Tayfun Salci / Shutterstock.com

Following suggestions that the Prime Minister may not replace Lord Geidt following his resignation as the independent adviser on ministerial interests, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman described the Ministerial Code as "the only mechanism a civil servant can use to raise a complaint of misconduct, bullying or sexual harassment against a minister". 

As reported by the Guardian and the Daily Mail, Penman also pointed out that "confidence in that process has already been severely damaged by the Prime Minister’s refusal to accept that the Home Secretary had breached the code, despite being found to have bullied staff".

Renewing the FDA's call for fully independent process for investigating complaints against ministers, Penman argued that the Prime Minister "must immediately put in place measures that ensure a civil servant can, with confidence, raise a complaint about ministerial misconduct. Ministers cannot be exempt from the standards that apply to civil servants - and any modern workplace - when it comes to their conduct."

Penman pointed to examples from both the House of Commons and Scotland where independent processes had been introduced:

"The Scottish Government has now implemented a fully-independent investigatory and decision-making process on complaints against ministers, with the House of Commons having introduced a similarly robust process for MPs. It’s time that scrutiny and enforcement of ministerial conduct was dragged into the 21st century - the Prime Minister should take this opportunity to introduce a similar fully-independent process for dealing with complaints against ministers."

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