In our Report published overnight the Home Affairs Select Committee heaps further criticism on Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood.
Our unanimously agreed report dismisses what the Cabinet Secretary “claimed” in his letter to us and in evidence to our sister Public Administration Committee. Indeed, Sir Jeremy’s claim that “his role had been heavily circumscribed” sounds like Sir Humphrey’s in Yes Minister that he is a humble vessel into which ministers pour the results of their deliberations.
Andrew Mitchell would not have been sacked if Jeremy Heywood had done his job properly and co-operated with the police. Yet he is allowed to stay in place.
Extract from Home Affairs Select Committee Report published 1/2/13:
Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP
- Following the altercation between Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP and police officers on 19 September 2012, we were concerned that the IPCC opted to supervise the investigation into the circumstances surrounding a police officer’s claims to have witnessed the incident in Downing Street, rather than to mount an independent investigation. The Metropolitan Police is carrying out the investigation—Operation Alice—with the lightest of supervision from the Commission. The allegation that a serving police officer may have fabricated an account and concealed that he was an officer is an extremely serious matter and raises broad questions about the integrity and honesty of some officers. When we took evidence on this matter from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, we asked him why the investigation had not been passed on to the Commission for independent investigation. He responded that “we did try. We did ask them; of course, they concluded they either could not or would not”.37
- We also wrote to Sir Jeremy Heywood who claimed that his role had been heavily circumscribed. However, investigations may have proceeded more expeditiously either had the Metropolitan Police been more forthcoming with certain details (such as Mr Mitchell’s request to see the police log book) or if Sir Jeremy had shared with the police the e-mail purporting to be from a member of the public and other issues arising from his investigation. A simple sharing of information could have helped to alleviate whatever problems had been caused, in this as in many other, lower-profile cases.