Former senior civil servant Sue Gray broke official rules by holding talks with Labour about becoming Sir Keir Starmer’s chief of staff while still in post, a Cabinet Office probe has concluded.
In a written ministerial statement on Monday, Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin said that “the Civil Service Code was prima facie broken as a result of the undeclared contact between Ms Gray and the Leader of the Opposition”.
“The rules and guidance that govern the conduct of civil servants are clear and transparent. It is deeply unfortunate that events have transpired in this way,” he continued.
“However, regardless of the details of this specific situation, I remain confident in the impartiality of our Civil Service and would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that it is the responsibility of everyone in this House to preserve and support this impartiality.”
The Cabinet Office announced shortly after Ms Gray quit the Civil Service that it intended to launch an inquiry to clarify whether Ms Gray violated civil service rules.
Official guidance states that senior civil servants are “politically restricted” and cannot meet with political figures without declaring it.
The probe is separate from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) process, which advises the Government on new roles for former ministers and senior civil servants.
Ms Gray has been cleared to take up her new role as Sir Keir’s chief of staff in September after Acoba rejected calls for her to undertake a lengthy period of gardening leave.
The Labour leader said he was “delighted” to be welcoming Ms Gray as his chief of staff, whom he said would help “lead our work preparing for a mission-led Labour government”.
“She brings unrivalled experience on how the machinery of government works and is a woman of great integrity,” Sir Keir said in a statement.
“After 13 years of the Tories, we know there is much to do to tackle the cost of living crisis, grow our economy and rebuild our public services.”