Prospect writes to Cabinet Secretary demanding he protect civil servants

13 Sep 2019

Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill demanding he protect civil servants.

Over the last few years we have seen an increasing number of unwarranted attacks on civil servants, with ministers and politicians of all political persuasion guilty of questioning the expertise and the impartiality of civil servants.  At the same time more and more is being asked of civil servants as they try to keep the country running while preparing for every conceivable Brexit scenario.

Against the backdrop of the Prime Minister repeatedly refusing to confirm that he will abide by the will of Parliament and Parliamentary legislation, members have raised concerns as to their position as civil servants. These concerns will have been compounded by the judgement from the Court of Session earlier this week. Prospect is demanding that guidance is issued to protect and support civil servants and provide clarity as to their rights and responsibilities. No civil servant should be put in a position where there is a conflict between obeying the law and serving the government of the day.

Prospect is demanding that Mark Sedwill:

  • Ensure that the Prime Minister,  Ministers and special advisers are familiar with the requirements of the Civil Service Code.
  • Issue guidance to civil servants so they are clear as to their rights and responsibilities under the Civil Service Code.
  • Set out clearly the processes and procedures for civil servants to follow if they believe that they are being asked or instructed to act in contravention of the Code.
  • Set out clearly the processes to be followed where civil servants raise concerns.
  • Be very clear that civil servants should never be asked or instructed to act in contravention of the law.
  • Give a clear commitment that where civil servants raise concerns in good faith that they will be supported and not subject to detriment or disciplinary action and their concerns will be investigated and acted upon speedily.

Garry Graham said:

“It is in the DNA of the civil service to act with integrity, comply with the law and not give rise to their political impartiality being questioned. It is the job of civil servants to serve the government of the day and it is the job of the government to act lawfully. The Prime Minister has not demonstrated or explained how he plans to act in accordance with what is the settled will of Parliament.

“At a time of unprecedented dependence on them, ensuring that civil servants are provided with the appropriate guidance and support has never been more important. In order to assure staff and provide clarity, Mark Sedwill’s urgent action is required.”

Read the letter here.