Labour has referred to as for “urgent” solutions about “unprecedented” allegations that No 10 staff have been informed to delete evidence of unlawful events in Downing Street.
The party’s deputy chief, Angela Rayner, has written to the cupboard secretary, Simon Case, asking him to affirm no information associated to the Partygate investigation, together with digital messages, have been destroyed.
Her letter, seen by The Independent, additionally asks Mr Case to affirm if any request to take away evidence has been made by senior officers or particular advisers of junior officers.
It follows a report in The Independent by which two sources claimed a senior member of staff informed them to “clean up” their telephones of something that would “look like a party” after early stories of gatherings whereas Covid restrictions have been in place in December final year.
The alleged verbal steering, which a Downing Street spokesperson stated they did “not recognise”, is at odds with a written request to staff to preserve any information pertinent to the interior investigation being carried out by senior official Sue Gray.
Ms Rayner stated: “Aside from the illegality of messages being deleted, there is a real question of fairness and leadership. Senior figures with power over junior officials could be seen to be bullying them into taking action to protect their own skin.”
She added: “It is deeply worrying that staff were reportedly pressured to do something wrong in order to cover up decisions by those at the top.”
On Friday, The Times reported that Ms Gray’s investigation had been “blindsided” by stories of events at Downing Street the day earlier than Prince Philip’s funeral. The investigating official is claimed to be involved that Downing Street staff are withholding details about events from the probe.
Labour’s deputy chief additionally asked Mr Case whether or not he’ll make sure that disciplinary course of will probably be utilized pretty and appropriately to “all those involved” together with himself.
Mr Case, as head of the civil service, has the ultimate say on any choice concerning disciplinary motion involving officers. Unless different preparations are made, he’ll decide what steps to take following Ms Gray’s report, until they contain ministers or political appointees, by which case that can fall to the prime minister, Boris Johnson.
Labour’s intervention additionally comes after a warning from the Information Commissioner’s Office in response to the report.
“Erasing, destroying or concealing information within scope of a Freedom of Information request, with the intention of preventing its disclosure is a criminal offence under section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act,” an ICO spokesperson stated.
Ms Rayner has formally asked Mr Case to affirm whether or not the Cabinet Office and Downing Street have referred themselves to the ICO.
She added: “The British Civil Service is known around the world for upholding the highest standards and, as you are of course aware, the Civil Service Code is designed to ensure that officials can conduct their work without fear or favour.
“I am concerned that in order to move on from this raft of scandals that junior staff may lose their jobs in order to protect politicians or their appointees.”
The intervention additionally follows stories of a plan to save the Johnson premiership which incorporates officers shedding their roles as a part of a fightback.
Sources informed The Independent Boris Johnson and others in Downing Street had taken to utilizing the casual identify “Operation Save Big Dog” for the plan to save the PM.
A spokesperson for Number 10 stated they “absolutely do not recognise” the phrase.