The news that Laura Wyld, who was recently appointed as Head of the Prime Minister's Appointments Unit, is a former Conservative campaigns officer has prompted understandable concern among Labour this morning.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Ashworth has now written to the Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood, noting that the post is intended to be "politically impartial" and demading to know who oversaw the recruitment process and how many other former Conservative staffers are employed in civil service posts. His letter appears in full below.
Sir Jeremy Heywood
10 Downing Street
Dear Sir Jeremy,
I am writing regarding the recent appointment of the former Conservative Party staff member Laura Wyld as Head of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit.
You will understand the concern many will have that someone who has worked in a campaigning role for the Conservative Party has been given a post on the public payroll which is intended to be politically impartial, and which has responsibility for making public appointments on the basis of merit, not party political allegiance.
I hope that you will be able to answer the following questions to reassure the public.
Was the post of Head of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit publicly advertised with an open recruitment process?
Who oversaw the recruitment and employment process of the current Head of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit?
Would you please provide a full list of all appointments in which the Prime Minister’s Appointments Unit has played a role since May 2013?
How many other former Conservative Party employees are now employed in Civil Service posts, and how many of these were appointed following an open recruitment process?
This is a matter of public interest since the impartiality of the civil service is central to effective and fair governance. It is vital, therefore, that all rules are upheld.
I will be releasing a copy of this letter to the media.
I look forward to your response.
Jonathan Ashworth MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office