Simon Case has admitted to having an “informal conversation” about possible roles at a royal charity for the Prime Minister’s now-wife, after being prompted from No 10.
The cabinet secretary responded to a letter from Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner challenging him about his involvement in Boris Johnson’s alleged efforts to try and secure Carrie Johnson’s top jobs. Ms Rayner asked Mr Case if he had approached the Duke and Duchess of the Royal Foundation of Cambridge in 2020 about a position for Mr Johnson’s then-fiancée.
In response, Mr Case insisted there had been “no improper conduct”, saying: “I have not recommended Ms Johnson for any role. In the fall of 2020, a former Number 10 team member asked about the possibilities. Johnson at eco-friendly charities I was happy to have an informal chat with someone involved with the Earthshot Prize about the positions available, as I would have done for anyone with relevant experience who would like to be involved in charitable work. “
The prime minister did not deny on Wednesday that he had spoken to aides about his wife’s role in 2020, both ahead of the Cop26 summit and with the royal family. his Chief of Staff of £100,000 a year when he was Foreign Secretary in 2018.
In her letter to Mr Case, Ms Rayner wrote: “There are now serious questions for the Prime Minister to answer about potential impropriety and conflicts of interest in his lobby for a high-paying, tax-funded job for his 2018 partner, Carrie Johnson. Reports suggest that Mr Johnson, while Secretary of State, attempted to recruit Ms Johnson in 2018 to a position in the State Department, as well as other positions, including one with a royal charity.
She said it raised “serious questions about sleaze and corruption” in Downing Street. Ms Rayner further said: “It is clearly inappropriate for the Prime Minister to be the judge and jury in his own case, so I ask that you confirm that this case will be subject to an independent investigation and full investigation.”
She also wrote separately to Lord Evans, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, calling on him to “open an independent inquiry into this matter”.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson had never recommended Ms Johnson for a government position but continued to deny that he was considering or discussing the move. The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said this week: “The Prime Minister has never recommended Ms Johnson for a government role, or a role as part of the Earthshot Prize. Furthermore, I would not comment on conversations that the prime minister has had privately or otherwise.”
In her letter, Ms Rayner said she wrote to Mr Case “in the absence of an independent ministerial adviser” following Lord Geidt’s resignation. Johnson’s independent ethics adviser resigned last week, saying he narrowly clung to his role because of the party gate, but eventually resigned after being forced into an “impossible and detestable” position by the prime minister over steel tariffs. Ms Rayner said she was concerned about the “glaring hole in the standards system” left by Lord Geidt’s resignation.
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