26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Second Standards Adviser quits post

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United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has lost his second Standards Adviser in 19 months amid growing fears he may now scrap the post altogether.

A statement from Downing Street said recruitment for a new independent adviser on standards to replace Lord Christopher Geidt would not begin until Mr Johnson had decided whether the role needed to be changed.

Lord Geidt (pictured) became the second Standards Adviser to quit following Sir Alex Allan’s 2020 decision to step down from the role after Mr Johnson refused to accept that Minister for the Home Office, Priti Patel had broken the Ministerial Code by bullying her staff.

In his resignation letter, Lord Geidt said he had been placed in an “impossible and odious position” over Government plans for measures that would have involved breaching the Ministerial Code.

He said such a move would have made a mockery of the Code, which it was his job to police.

Lord Geidt did not detail the precise nature of the proposals, but they are thought to involve the extension of emergency tariffs on Chinese steel.

He said the latest issues were effectively the final straw after problems with Downing Street over the refurbishment of Mr Johnson’s official flat and his fine for attending social events during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Jonathan Evans said concerns about finding someone willing and capable to take on the independent adviser job following the departures of Lord Geidt and Sir Alex could be one reason Downing Street was looking to rethink the position.

However, Mr Evans said taking away an independent voice on standards from the heart of Government would risk further damage to public perceptions of standards.

London, 19 June 2022

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