Brodie Clark flatly contradicted Home Secretary, Theresa May, today when he appeared before MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Committee.
He doggedly held his firm view that there was no misunderstanding or ambiguity between his understanding of what happened and Theresa May’s. And when the panel attempted to suggest otherwise, and asked him if it were at all possible that there was a misunderstanding, and that he may therefore have inadvertently misunderstood her ministerial instructions, he answered with brevity, firmly and unequivocally.
“No,” he said without hesitation.
I noticed that Keith Vaz, the committee chairman, made some oblique reference to a problem that Mr Clark was having with his e-mail. He was keen to point out that he had written a key e-mail to his former boss Rob Whiteman that supported his position. It may be that Mr Clark was denied access to his own mail by gov.com since he was suspended.
Last week Theresa May said that all papers would be shared with the committee, but this sharing has not yet happened. That critical e-mail might have settled the matter, but is predictably elusive.
When it was Rob Whiteman’s turn to offer evidence to the committee, I found myself wondering how this floundering man found himself the boss of the authorative Mr Clark, who preceeded him.
Rob Whiteman, was appointed by the Home Office, and had been in the job for just four weeks when he suspended Mr Clark.
Mr Whiteman described a meeting with Mr Clark which flatly contradicted Mr Clark’s account, but then it emerged that the meeting was minuted not once, but by two of Mr Whiteman’s private secretaries. Mr Whiteman was asked if he would provide copies of these minutes, and Mr Whiteman, pointedly declined to say that he would.
Mr Clark had alleged that his younger, inexperienced boss, Mr Whiteman, had suggested that Mr Clark should accept an early retirement package. The committee asked Mr Whiteman who was the first to mention the idea of a “retirement “ package. Was it him or Mr Clark?
He gave a long “answer” which allowed him to avoid giving an actual answer. Mr Clark will not thank the committee for not pressing for an answer, because proven “age discrimination” would add substantially to his claim for “constructive dismissal”.
Theresa May is happy to take credit for the pilot scheme, but now it emerges that Brodie Clark was the proposer of the scheme and the biggest advocate of the scheme, and it was he who claimed, with some pride, that it was a success.
I am not at all sure that Mr Whiteman has performed well, and he admitted today that he did not trouble himself to ask Mr Clark for his reasoning before he suspended him, claiming that he was not allowed to do so, by HR advisors that were telling him what to do, and it seems, what to say.
However Theresa May certainly shouted blame and shame since it was she that so publicly traduced Mr Clark’s “distinguished” reputation, as a civil servant of some forty years, and following Mr Whiteman’s lead she also did not trouble herself by actually asking the man himself, before she blue it so publicly.
The public purse will pay for her mistake, in compensation to the fall guys. The public will not be informed about this, but it will happen.