TORs under which Priestly is to be investigated

I have no comment to make, other than to note the very narrowness of the Terms of Reference and quote the glorious Yes Minister, wh0se insights pepper this whole story from start to finish:

“We dare not allow politicians to establish the principle that senior civil servants can be removed for incompetence. We could lose dozens of our chaps. Hundreds maybe. Even thousands.”

TERMS OF REFERENCE

  1. Following allegations of irregularities around the awarding of procurement contracts in Northern Ireland Water (a government owned company), the Department for Regional Development (DRD) commissioned an Independent Review Team to carry out a review of the circumstances surrounding these alleged irregularities. The role of the Independent Review Team was discussed, inter alia, at the Northern Ireland Public Accounts Committee hearing on the Governance of NI Water held on 1 July 2010 attended by DRD officials including Paul Priestly, DRD Permanent Secretary and Accounting Officer.
  2. Subsequently, a member of the Independent Review Team wrote to the Public Accounts Committee criticising how the hearing was conducted. As a result of his role in this correspondence Mr Priestly was suspended from duty on 17 August 2010 under paragraph 7.1 of section 6.03 of the NICS HR Handbook to allow an investigation to be carried out in line with paragraph 4.1 of section 6.03 of the NICS HR Handbook.
  3. As Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service I have asked you to undertake this investigation.  It should be carried out expeditiously bearing in mind the need for a full and proper investigation and consideration of all the facts of the case. The output of this investigation will be a report to be submitted to me which will establish the facts regarding the conduct of Mr Priestly and any other civil servant in relation to the letter of 5 July 2010.
  4. The report will include your comment on whether you believe there may have been any misconduct, including breaches of relevant standards of conduct, terms and conditions of appointment, and in Mr Priestly’s case, his personal responsibilities as Accounting Officer and Head of Department.

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  • Mick, politics has moved on since the days of Yes Minister. We also now have that glorious bird of prey, the Special Adviser. Have any of them been hauled to account by our little watchdogs?

  • Pete Baker

    “The output of this investigation will be a report to be submitted to me which will establish the facts regarding the conduct of Mr Priestly and any other civil servant in relation to the letter of 5 July 2010”

    What other facts need established beyond what Priestly himself said?

    You asked for my advice and I suggested that you should write to the PAC Chairman. You asked for a first draft of a letter you might send.

    I have had a go at a draft.

    And we know who received a copy of that email and draft letter.

  • Wilde Rover

    “We could loose dozens of our chaps.”

    Loose? As in let them loose in the wild?

    Not a bad idea. Perhaps some island somewhere

  • Mick Fealty

    Nope.

  • Mick Fealty

    My bad. Corrected.

  • Jj

    “And we know who received a copy of that email and draft letter.”

    Ok, who? I’ve asked several times for these people to be named.

    Also: this letter may have been drafted by others – who?

    NB: “regarding the conduct of Mr Priestly and ANY OTHER civil servant”.

  • Cynic

    Oh so its confined to the letter itself and not the reasons for the conduct. How convenient

  • Mike Scott

    So this is Murphy rooting out the ‘old boy network’?

    Pathetic.

  • C’mon now, what else did you expect?

  • I see its business, and politics, as usual…

  • Mike Scott

    I didn’t expect anything else I suppose. I would have hoped for something mroe robust though.

    Terms of Reference this limited pave the way for Priestly’s tail between the legs return to work by, oh, Christmas?

  • Mike, I don’t think we should be surprised if Conor’s cronies appear in increasing numbers on the boards of companies or organisations that DRD has a direct say in, either by ministerial edict or through the direct participation of his special adviser. Ditto for the cronies of other Ministers.

    There should be cause for alarm if they can determine the outcome of decisions. That is why it is essential that those bodies such as Government committees and the Consumer Council are fit for purpose. Openness, transparency and accountability must be more than an idle boast.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Mike likely the result will be announced just before Christmas recess, with a return to work in January.

    Of course (and quite rightly) Mr Priestly will be on full pay until Mr Shortridge has delivered his deliberations.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘the very narrowness of the Terms of Reference’

    As per normal.

    It all helps to ensure you get the result you expect.

  • magnus

    One . What are the chances Mr Priestley will become a visiting lecturer to the the National School of Government College at Ascot.

    Two. The terms of reference should be viewed as a briefing, hence you get the required result.

    Three. There are two requirements it seems. Firstly a consideration of the facts of the case, secondly an estblishment of the facts re Mr Priestly and AN OTHER civil servant(s)

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Following allegations of irregularities around the awarding of procurement contracts in Northern Ireland Water (a government owned company), the Department for Regional Development (DRD) commissioned an Independent Review Team to carry out a review of the circumstances surrounding these alleged irregularities”

    The “findings” of both the IRT and Internal review, and the basis for the Minister’s “decisive action”, have now become “allegations of irregularities”.