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The Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee has this morning published a letter (pdf) it received from Christopher Geidt, the PM’s independent adviser on ministerial standards, responding to questions from the committee about the Downing Street flat refurbishment inquiry.
In the letter, Lord Geidt repeats the point he made in letters published last week about how concerned he was by the PM’s failure to disclose WhatsApp messages undermined. Geidt says:
The episode shook my confidence precisely because potential and real failures of process occurred in more than one part of the apparatus of government. These failures were not, in my view, due to a lack of investigatory powers, but rather they showed insufficient care for the role of independent adviser.
I would expect by the time of my next annual report in April to be able to describe the role of independent adviser in terms of considerably greater authority, independence and effect, consistent with the ambitions for the office that the prime minister has set out.
When I saw this I thought, I can’t really believe this, if I’m honest. It was May 2020, a time when we were all restricted. My idea of going out was to walk along the canal with one friend, frankly, and I’m sure there’s lots of people in the West Midlands who have their own recollections of what they were doing in May 2020. So yes, it is very difficult to believe.
What we don’t know is whether the prime minister was there. I obviously can’t possibly comment on that, but that’s why the inquiry has got to come.
And I’m sure that when the inquiry finds out the facts, then the conclusions and the consequences will be acted upon.
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