Peston: Boris Johnson ‘must bear responsibility’ for rule-breaking culture at No. 10


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Former National Security Adviser Lord Ricketts spoke extensively about Boris Johnson and Simon Case to Robert Peston on ITV on Wednesday evening. Britain’s top civil servant was clinging to his job on Wednesday night after being blamed in Sue Gray’s Partygate report for overseeing a culture of rule-breaking in Number 10.

Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, has refused to resign after the Whitehall enforcer tore into the Downing Street leadership for organising and attending boozy gatherings.

Boris Johnson has decided to stand by his most senior official, who informed him before the Sue Gray report was published that he would not quit and would have to be pushed.

Speaking about Mr Johnson, the former national security adviser said: “The tone and culture of No.10 is set by the person at the top, so each Prime Minister gets the type of No.10 that they want to reflect their style.

“First and foremost, it’s Boris Johnson’s fault but the civil service leadership also has considerable responsibility.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Case wrote to staff saying lessons had been learnt from Partygate and they “must remain fully focused on serving the Government”.

The letter, seen as a call to move on from the scandal, went down badly with some officials, who criticised it as tone-deaf and a “disgrace”.

It came after Ms Gray appeared to suggest that junior staff within Downing Street, who bore the brunt of police partygate fines, had been hung out to dry by their bosses.

She said that “the senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture” of rule-breaking in Number 10.

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She wrote: “It is important to acknowledge those in most junior positions who attended gatherings at which their seniors were present, or indeed organised.

“It is also the case that some of the more junior civil servants believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders.”

Voicing his opinion, Mr Ricketts said: “If it was me, I would have resigned by now because I think to read that language and to realise that I was responsible and in-charge, I don’t think I could have stayed on.

“But it is quite difficult to say that the Prime Minister, who says he accepts the full responsibility, nevertheless doesn’t resign and the civil servant working for him does.

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