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May adviser resigns as Cameron takes control of extremism row

7 June 2014

7:09 PM

7 June 2014

7:09 PM

Theresa May’s adviser Fiona Cunningham has resigned as part of the fallout from the Cabinet row over extremism as David Cameron seeks to regain control of his ministers.

The Prime Minister today received the results of Sir Jeremy Heywood’s investigation into the row, which exploded onto the front page of the Times and spread like wildfire through other media as the Gove and May camps briefed against one another. Both have been set tasks by the PM to demonstrate that this row is over. Gove has written to Charles Farr and Cameron apologising for his briefing over lunch to the Times which sparked the row. As for the furious response from May’s advisers, that has cost Cunningham, in a relationship with Farr and the source of those explosive briefings to the newspaper, her job. Gove will also give an account of the findings of the investigations into the schools in Birmingham to the Commons on Monday.

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Neither minister has got off lightly from this, although May has been worse hit by losing one of her trusted advisers, who is famously loyal and very much an aide who seeks to promote the career chances of her boss, as well as dealing with the day-to-day challenges of the department. Cunningham was an important part of Team Theresa, pushing for the Home Secretary to soar even further in the future. But the danger of letting either camp off for a briefing war that disclosed official write-round correspondence and distracted from a don’t-rock-the-boat Queen’s Speech was too great. The Prime Minister needs a Cabinet that rows behind him: and the other members now know that disobedience will not be without a cost.

Full Downing Street statement:

‘The Prime Minister has been deeply concerned by the allegations made about extremism and a number of Birmingham schools.  The Government, through the Department for Education and Ofsted, has taken swift action to investigate these allegations since they emerged in late 2013.

‘The Prime Minister is taking a specific interest in ensuring this serious matter is being dealt with effectively.  The detailed findings of the investigations will be set out in Parliament on Monday by the Secretary of State for Education.  The Prime Minister has made clear that he expects a robust response from all relevant organisations to any findings that confirm that the safety and learning of children in our schools have been put at risk.  The Prime Minister has prioritised fighting all forms of extremism, including through setting up his Extremism Taskforce in the wake of the horrific killing of Lee Rigby.

‘In relation to unauthorised comments to the media about the Government’s approach to tackling extremism and the improper release of correspondence between Ministers, the Prime Minister has received the Cabinet Secretary’s review establishing the facts behind these events.  In acknowledgement of his role, today, the Secretary of State for Education has written separately to Charles Farr and the Prime Minister apologising for the original comments made to the Times newspaper.  In addition, in relation to further comments to the Times, Fiona Cunningham has today resigned.’


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Show comments
  • Bob339

    Hurray! Another lying spin doctor bites the dust! I just hope she is not getting a huge pay-off and pension.

  • evad666

    Will Charles Farr now resign as he appears to be complicit in this fiasco.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Farr

  • Tom M

    I rather saw the other side of this row. I saw two government ministers agruing about the fact the Islamic extremism de facto exists and were vying for the position of who was doing most to combat it. All this as opposed to the other lot who just told (tell) us it isn’t happening.

  • evad666

    Perhaps the real problem is all the parties are attempting to distract the public from the fact none of them have been addressing the threat from militant islamists. After all Lib, Lab or Con they can do no wrong.

  • The Pink Panzer

    May for PM.

    • Grey Wolf

      Why, Pinky
      Care to explain further

      • The Pink Panzer

        A woman PM is usually good for Britain.

        • Grey Wolf

          Curious.
          How so?

  • Colonel Mustard

    The relationship between Farr and Cunningham was a conflict of interest so her departure from the Home Office is welcome although no doubt she will re-appear somewhere else with a deployed parachute under her arm. Through her the unelected Farr was able to influence policy and lobby for legislation to a disproportionate degree.

    “…The problem for some is that Farr is not a politician, answerable to parliament, and is certainly not a conventional civil servant. Instead, critics say, he has never stopped acting like a spy. The man who should be assessing recommendations from the security services and offering advice to policymakers, they say, behaves instead like MI6’s man in government, driving forward policies that suit his hawkish agenda.”

    • In2minds

      Charles Farr – How successful has he been? Naturally we the public cannot
      be told because of the ‘security’ issues involved! But the fact is the Islamification of East Birmingham has been going on since the mid 1980’s at least and has been unchecked by governments and public servants in uniform or not.

      It suits ‘an agenda’ to leave it alone, however, there are some impressive jobs in places like the Home Office! Theresa May told the Police Federation to wake up to reality, it’s time for the ‘security and anti-terrorism’ people to do the same.

      • Colonel Mustard

        What happens is that Islamic extremists are targeted and monitored in a context of the Government pretending that has nothing to do with Islam. It is the usual denial of the bleedin’ obvious which results in such delights of enrichment as the tedious security procedures at airports where everyone must suffer for the exploits of a tiny few just so that designated minorities are not offended. The bulk of the population is put upon by Government because they have no disproportionate ‘channel of complaint’ favoured status and the Government cannot then be accused of discrimination. There is no quango, fake charity, single-issue campaign group or loud-mouthed female MP clamouring for the rights of the Poor Bloody English.

        This punishment of the many for the sins of the few was personified by Farr in his lobbying for the right to spy on the emails and internet browsing of every man, woman and child in Britain. An ugly proposal resurrected from the dark days of New Labour in astonishing contradiction to Cameron’s promise to sweep away New Labour’s nanny state.

        Good riddance to Cunningham and, hopefully, good riddance to Farr too. The Home Secretary should be holding the security services to account on behalf of Parliament as the collective representation of the people, not being used as the device by which they advance legislation to suit themselves.

        • ButcombeMan

          Colonel

          Your penultimate paragraph considerably overstates the metadata retention argument.

          Worthy almost of a Guardian Editorial or a stupid article by Shami.

          You are in the wrong place today, you should be conspiring with double agent Snowden, as the Guardian did.

          You are of course correct about Farr & Cunningham but forming useful alliances like that, is all in the days (or nights work) to SIS operatives no doubt.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I seem to be aligned with Steven Fry too. Oh, the horror.

            • balance_and_reason

              I would see it more like spooning…cupped smoothly together.

            • ButcombeMan

              Certainly

              Retire to the library with a gin and tonic for a re-think..

              Ponder if you would truly be content to leave our security in the hands of Rustbucket, Fry, or the fragrant Shami and their fellow travellers.

              Rustbucket has committed near treason in his desperation to preserve his failing organ.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I take your point but I don’t really subscribe to the worst case scenario/maximum risk aversion imperative that seems to drive a lot of Westminster legislation. If the proposal is as innocent of personal intrusion as you suggest then it has been very poorly presented and sold.

            But there is also a principle involved where I find the proposal distasteful beyond any pure logic or justification. At the height of the Second World War and Cold War it was not thought necessary to collect copies of everyone’s letters just in case they might be needed for investigation. I realise technology has moved on and the authorities are terrified of the non-juristictional aspects of the internet but just because something is technically feasible doesn’t mean that it should be done.

            Having been closer to these things than you perhaps realise I am all too aware of the hawkishness and overkill that can permeate the ‘security’ mindset. When it is combined with the ‘something must be done’ mentality of the modern politician a cynical scepticism is easily aroused. I am not professing to be right about it but I don’t like it and don’t have to!

            There is also the question of how these powers might be extended by unscrutinised statute by an incoming Labour government playing fast and loose with what they consider to be ‘extremism’. Not too impressed by how their badly drafted and worse enforced ‘hate speech’ laws have wasted police and court time as well as taxpayers money with inconsequential Twittering. A silly distraction from more important issues. But if they get in with their current ‘radical’ agenda there will probably be much more in that vein. For our own good of course.

            • ButcombeMan

              “then it has been very poorly presented and sold”.

              But Colonel it could not BE “sold” to some people. They are opposed because they do not understand it and never can.

              What is now called “Metadata” has, since the Exchange Clerk’s “Tickets”, on a manual exchange, been at the heart of solving serious crime and defeating terrorism.

              The issue is, that now there is so much more of it, with different private sector, not State run data holders.

              This metadata is absolutely key to our future safety..

              Andrew Parker (Head of MI5), at HASC, described intelligence work as “looking for a needle in a haystack”.

              Of course he was right.

              To do that, first secure your haystack. Securing half of it is not enough.

              With so many sources that is extraordinarily difficult.

              Securing the haystack impinges not at all on the freedoms we all enjoy and which make the UK such a desired destination for migrants.

              You must not listen to Rustbucket. He just wants to sell newspapers. He should by rights be in the Tower of London.

        • Grey Wolf

          ”punishment of the many for the sins of the few was personified by Farr in his lobbying for the right to spy on the emails and internet browsing of every man, woman and child in Britain…ugly proposal resurrected from the dark days of New Labour…”

          Very well put!!

          A combination of globalist-crony capitalism, Cultural-Marxism and neo-con interventionist worldview in foreign affairs has transformed the fortunes of the British people in unpleasant ways.

        • Ace

          >> clamouring for the rights of the Poor Bloody English. <<

          A quaint idea. Away with you.

          It's odd reading about this spat. Islam is taking root in Britain and Muslims continue to flood in and throw their weight around. While that's going on and is as plain as your nose, these posh folks are backing and filling over Lord knows what. The shifting alliances of the attendees at a girly pajama party would probably be more interesting that these maneuverings, but possibly I'm being obtuse.

          Meanwhile the clock ticks and the thanes slumber.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I suspect the thanes are stirring uneasily rather than slumbering.

  • MirthaTidville

    Indeed battle has truely commenced..Dave will find his head on the stick sooner than he thought methinks..Get the popcorn in……..

  • Kitty MLB

    Two of Cameron’s most senior ministers and most capable
    ministers should not behave in manner, especially Michael
    Gove .They should have their heads bashed together and
    learn to behave.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Well, you’re right about that, Kitty. I am of the opinion, though I have nosort of proof, that Theresa May didn’t actually know what Cunningham was doing. And that Cunningham thought it was what Theresa would like. Like that ‘comment, ‘Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest? And bingo!’.

      • Jimmy R

        So basically May has lost control of the people who work for her. I suspect Cunningham was doing exactly what she know she was expected to do and when it all blew up the boss ran for cover and left the hired hand to take the blame. May only attacks those she knows cannot fight back and only deals with easy targets. Things that do not fall into those categories are either ignored or left to others to deal with in case things go wrong.
        Remember how May tried to kick a major terrorist out of the country and botched it due to her rush to grandstand by appearing forceful? When that went horribly wrong due to her over-eagerness to grab the limelight made her be too impatient to wait the extra 24 hours she played dumb, claimed innocence and dumped all the blame on her “advisors” on that occasion also.
        There was a day, in far more honourable times, when ministers who blundered like that automatically resigned, or at least proffered their resignation, on the grounds that the were the one in charge of their department and therefore the responsibility for any embarrassing failures in that department fell on their shoulders and on theirs alone.

        • Fergus Pickering

          People are always saying that. It in’t true, though. The only minister who resigned under those circumstances was Lord Carrington. The erst hung on like grim death, as now. Politicians are just the same as they always were..

          • Benedict

            Crichel Down should not be forgotten.

        • Colonel Mustard

          More probably it was that upper middle class British tendency for women to assume the rank of their husbands to throw their weight around. Cunningham was probably taking liberties in the name of Farr, encouraged by their pillow talk.

          • ButcombeMan

            Correct.

      • Kitty MLB

        I am of the same opinion, there is no proof and Cunningham just went ahead with what she thought
        was right. In my humble opinion there is a issue with
        special advisors and all these many other people
        who assist politicians. A lot of them are out of their
        depth and some go their own little power trip.

        • Wessex Man

          In that case why don’t the Ministers show a bit of backbone and sack the lot of them, there are far too many spads and jobworths in Parliament. It’s not just confined to the Tory Party it’s all through Westminster and don’t even get me started on the Civil Servents.

      • ButcombeMan

        More important surely is, did Farr ?

        A very interesting question which is one no doubt, beyond the ability of Heywood to flush out, if he even thought of it.

        Maybe Cunningham has gone because Farr did know, even orchestrated it..

        • Fergus Pickering

          Possibly. I wouldn’t know. But this is one of those stories which is entirely forgotten by next Tuesday.except by preening hacks.

          • Kitty MLB

            Indeed only the preening hacks will rattle on.
            Poor things, like wilderbeest around a ever
            shrinking pool of water fighting over the smallest piece of remaining red meat.
            Whilst the rest of the world has moved on.

    • Mynydd

      Not only that they should have been sacked, but with a prime Minister like Mr Cameron it’s about all we can hope for.

  • you_kid

    I like it how when bigots get into a hussle all they do nowadays is sack their aids. Conviction politics, ey?
    What a sick world we now all live in.

    • Bob339

      shurely ‘aides’

      • you_kid

        It clearly is a sick world we now live in.

  • bugshead

    Clearly more to this than meets the eye. The Spad is irrelevant, and I hear that this has damaged Farr’s career prospects.

    • In2minds

      “has damaged Farr’s career prospects” –

      Those of us with some knowledge of Farr’s work would be surprised to hear
      he had any career prospects left. Also this episode has not helped May in a future leadership bid. The Home Office, the nasty department? Also Sir Jeremy Heywood, he’s the one who made a mess of the Andrew Mitchell case, why trust him?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Good.

  • @PhilKean1

    .
    I can well imagine the sight of Cameron putting his foot down –

    – scaring the living daylights out of May and Gove.

    I mean, we only see public side of Cameron as being weak, appeasing and cowardly. But away from the public’s gaze, one can well imagine that he has a bite that would leave deep dents in top quality memory-foam mattress.
    .

    • Wessex Man

      Love it!

      • telemachus

        Wait until he gets his teeth into Merkel

        • Kitty MLB

          David Cameron would never bite a lady,
          he, I am sure is a gentleman of the first waters.
          He’s waiting to get his teeth into Hollande,
          which is why that chap on Friday said France
          and England were like twins and best friends.
          Hollande has also been quite bitten by Cameron
          quite recently…….

    • Colonel Mustard

      It would be a very small bite and it would have a sort of spoilt, vindictive look about it. When I see Cameron in a strop I am always reminded, for some strange reason, of Alistair Sim as the Headmistress of St Trinians.

    • Mynydd

      When he wants to put his foot down, he tells his wife to do it, but only after she hands over the remote.

  • George_Arseborne

    Just give them food, they will leak everything. Gove ran his mouth over lunch to the Times paper. Cheap minister. Hope they got booted in 2015.

  • Barakzai

    ‘Cameron takes control ‘ (following a Jeremy Heywood review). There’s a process to be encouraged by if you’re a cabinet minister. What’s it cost the ex-Chief Whip, so far?

  • davebush999

    Just like Jeremy Hunt, the SpAd gets the boot whilst the guilty parties get let off.

    • Kitty MLB

      Jeremy Hunts special advisor saw himself as far too
      important and crossed the line.Mr Hunt did nothing wrong
      and he was the elected minister.Not the special advisor.

      • davebush999

        Your tribal sycophancy is getting boring.

        • Kitty MLB

          Pray tell me , as I am a right wing Tory,
          what do you suppose my ‘ tribal sycophancy’
          to actually be? O wise one thou who drinks
          from the fountain of all knowledge.

          • you_kid

            Why pray tell us how on earth one could defend Jeremy ‘I have got news for you, Rupert’ Hunt? The blatant crookery is in black and white for everyone to see. Conviction politics, ey? Pray tell us what corrupt to the core politics looks like in your book of eternal wisdom.

            • Colonel Mustard

              I see that you have finally ditched the arcane ambiguity of your false flag act and come out as a frothing, red flag waving member of the left wing idiocracy blighting the country. Tell me, does your wind turbine avatar symbolise your approval of those monstrosities or are you trying to present a “crooked cross” look to go with your NSDAP-style politics?

              You kid. You bet you do.

              • you_kid

                I have ditched ambiguity? It is crystal clear that any man/woman of integrity would have his/her views when it comes that little slime ball of a toad that is the parked Secretary of State for parking charges at NHS hospitals. That man has brought this government into disrepute – no party line could be thick enough to obscure that fact.

                My avatar is a visual homage to that Earl toff elitist Willi Dartmouth for displaying equal levels of moral integrity.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  No, I don’t ‘get’ you at all. But I think you’d make a great comedy double-dutch act with your comrade Dalai Lame.

          • Grey Wolf

            ”Right wing Tory”….huh?

            Things have become this bad, isn’t it? Even the descriptor ‘Tory’ needs a qualifier. Decay and decadence. We live in a strange world. Even as the Western nations came up top in the cold war against Soviet communism, they surrendered to Cultural Marxism meekly.

            Now we have global-crony capitalism and Marxism in the social-cultural sphere.

            • Colonel Mustard

              It’s a vile combination that manages to persecute the ordinary people with a double whammy. If ever England needed a ‘tank man’ to stand in front of the tripartite juggernaut grinding its way over individual liberty it is now.

              • Grey Wolf

                That’s right, Colonel.
                And feel fortunate that they haven’t started censoring ‘England’ yet. But it seems the day is not far.

      • telemachus

        Jeremy Smug Hunt is still in Government after embarrassing Cameron at the behest of Murdoch
        That is wrong

        • Grey Wolf

          Everything about you is wrong. But can we do anything about that?

        • Colonel Mustard

          He is nowhere near as smug as you and your fellow trolls, or the ghastly cretins sitting on the opposition front bench.

          • Mynydd

            Have you seen how he looks?

        • Mynydd

          He is still in charge of a NHS that poisons babies . Of course one should not expect an apology from Mr Hunt because it’s all Mr Miliband’s and Labour’s fault.

          • Colonel Mustard

            “…one should not expect an apology from Mr Hunt because it’s all Mr Miliband’s and Labour’s fault.”

            Glad that you have finally seen the light. Now go away and tell your comrades.

          • vvputout

            I suspect that Hunt will do a good job at a period when the NHS is in a bit of a turmoil, with Simon Stevens proposing a partial reversal of Nicholson’s concept of the service.

            Instead of criticising JH in these sort of threads, it would be sensible if some people put forward their own ideas on how how the service should be run through Healthwatch England and/or local Healthwatches.

      • Mynydd

        Mr Hunt, like all ministers are responsible for their special advisors. There were back door talks between his department and NI in respect to their bid for Sky. However the biggest failure was Mr Cameron’s in his failure to sack him.

        • Bob339

          For ‘special advisors’ read ‘paid liars’.

    • telemachus

      The main casualty here will be May’s wardrobe and shoes
      *
      Cunningham was in truth like a Victorian Lady in waiting
      *
      Her true role at the Home Office was to ensure May’s reputation for a “good turn out”

      • Colonel Mustard

        For all her faults you are not fit to lick May’s shoes.

        • Mynydd

          No one wants to lick the shoes that cannot kick foreign criminals out of the country

          • Colonel Mustard

            I don’t believe ‘want’ comes into it. It is about fitness. And Ms May (PBUH) finally got rid of Qatada after 3 years, which Labour had singularly failed to do since 2002 – eight years. They probably believed he was ‘enriching’ us or rubbing our noses in diversity or some such vile left wing treason.

          • Aberrant_Apostrophe

            The reasons they cannot ‘kick someone foreign criminals of the Country’ are a) the Human Rights Act, which Labour brought in (you know, Bliar’s ‘greatest achievement’), and our liberal judges, many of whom are Labour appointees, who put the spurious rights of criminals over those of the Public. Put the blame where it really lies, Labour. And possibly a smidgeon of blame on the Tories for not getting an overall majority at the 2010 GE when presented with an open goal, so they could repeal the HRA and replace it with a modern Bill of Rights.

  • balance_and_reason

    Seriously….when will these idiots realise that they are here to make the conservative party win and run the country….not promote their own team or personal career…we need to get the bonus’s aligned…like in the city.

    • Mynydd

      There’s nothing else left for them to do. Mr Cameron has lost half of the party’s members so the next general election is already out of the window.

    • Bob339

      shurely ‘bonuses’?

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