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Coffee House

Gove vs Labour on Cummings, round 56

24 June 2014

4:22 PM

24 June 2014

4:22 PM

Michael Gove has this afternoon replied to Labour’s questions about Dominic Cumming’s access to the Education department since finishing as a special adviser. Coffee House has got hold of the letter first.

Labour became oddly fixated on whether or not Cummings was still visiting the department, rather than on his stinging criticisms of David Cameron and the Number 10 operation as ‘bumbling’ and a stumbling block for reform. So Gove’s reply to Kevin Brennan’s letter demanding more details is quite easy. He says he doesn’t know how often Cummings has visited the department. And that’s that, save for a gratuitous and teasing reference to the long-term economic plan…

Here’s the letter in full:

Thank you for your letter of 17 June about my former special adviser, Dominic Cummings. I am very sorry if my answers in the House were not clear enough.

As I acknowledged in the House, old friends and colleagues do drop into the Department from time to time. I am sure you would recognise that, in the context of a team which has worked together over a number of years in Opposition as well as Government, it would be highly unusual for all contact to cease immediately and utterly simply because an individual leaves their post.

However, I am afraid I simply do not know on how many occasions Dominic has visited the Department for Education since he left his post. No list of such meetings exists and I believe there are better uses of taxpayers’ money than to task a civil servant employed by the Crown to go through well over one hundred days’ worth of numerous individuals’ diaries in order to establish such a list. I am sure that on reflection you will agree such an expense would be hard to justify to hard-pressed taxpayers who, thanks to this Government’s long-term economic plan, are only now recovering from the effects of the Great Recession.

Arrangements for record-keeping and the security of the building are a matter for the Permanent Secretary. The Department does not normally comment on security issues. However, you will be reassured to learn that, as an ex-employee, Dominic’s pass has been deactivated. Given that no list of meetings exists, again I do not know how many times Dominic has visited the Department since his pass was deactivated.

I hope this is helpful and I look forward to returning to discussing our parties’ respective education policies, or lack thereof, at the earliest possible opportunity.

Yours ever,

MICHAEL GOVE

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