Civil service chief denies Brown intervention

Trouble inside No 10? What trouble?
Trouble inside No 10? What trouble?

By staff

Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell has denied giving the prime minister a dressing-down over the way civil servants are treated.

The head of the civil service told the Commons' justice committee that he did have a discussion with Gordon Brown about "how to get the best out of his staff", however .

It followed allegations in journalist Andrew Rawnsley's book that the prime minister was responsible for bullying staff in No 10.

"When I say to the prime minister do you really get the best out of your staff when you congratulate them for really good pieces of work, he said yes," Sir Gus told MPs this morning.

"I make a point, when I discuss with him, saying that it is really important you show your support for the civil service and he has done. I haven't called for investigations. I haven't given verbal warnings."

The bullying row has dominated the week in Westminster politics and was exacerbated after the National Bullying Helpline claimed to have received calls from Downing Street staff complaining about bullying.

"I am not prepared to get into conversations about individuals. It is ridiculous," Sir Gus added, after being asked how many people had been upset by the prime minister's behaviour.

"If individuals come to me with issues it is important that I, as head of the civil service, maintain confidentiality."

He insisted he had had similar discussions with Tony Blair about making the most of the civil service.

Earlier this week Sir Gus denied through the prime minister's spokesman that he had spoken to Mr Brown about the issue.

He appeared today to answer questions about civil service plans for coping with a hung parliament.


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