The UK’s top civil servant has put on a lackluster performance in front of a powerful committee of the House of Commons tasked with overseeing an investigation into leaks at the heart of government.
Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, Simon Case, left MPs frustrated at the source of the leak (or leaks) which first emerged in October 2020 when details of England’s second Covid-19 lockdown were leaked to the media before a formal announcement.
Case’s appearance before the House of Commons’ Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee was marked by evasion and poor engagement with his audience.
His performance was judged to be sufficiently substandard that it drew the ire of former Labor shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, who accused the civil service boss of delivering a “badly-scripted version” of the 1980s TV sitcom Yes Minister.
The highlight of the session was when Case repeatedly failed to answer questions about the source of funding for the refurbishment of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s flat at 10 Downing Street.
Case also failed to confirm the PM’s former strategist Dominic Cumming’s claims that he had been cleared as a suspect in the leaking inquiry.
Arguably the only useful information Case supplied to the committee was a partial admission that the investigation might not achieve the desired outcome.
"In the time that has now passed, I think it is probable that the team will not successfully identify the source or sources but work is ongoing", Case told the exasperated MPs.