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Labour Leader Refuses to Comment on Sue Gray’s Delayed Appointment

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Via Keir Starmer/Twitter)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has declined to comment on the reported 12-month delay in Sue Gray’s appointment as his chief of staff, citing a “process in place” when questioned by broadcasters during a local election campaign visit to Blackpool. The delay has sparked speculation that the former senior civil servant may have breached the Civil Service Code with her switch to the Labour Party. Starmer dodged the question, instead directing attention to the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on voters ahead of the upcoming council elections.

The controversy surrounding Gray’s appointment stems from a report in The Mail On Sunday that suggests a UK Cabinet Office investigation may conclude that her talks with Labour breached the Civil Service Code. The code stipulates that officials of Gray’s seniority must wait a minimum of three months before taking up outside employment. However, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) is reviewing the terms of Gray’s departure and new job offer, and could recommend a longer cooling-off period to avoid any conflict of interest.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Via Keir Starmer/Twitter)

Gray, who led the UK government’s investigation into allegations of parties being held in Downing Street during the coronavirus lockdown, is expected to start her employment with the Labour Party at some point in the future, although the exact date remains uncertain. Labour has pledged to abide by any Acoba recommendation regarding Gray’s appointment, and the final decision on the rules will be made by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Meanwhile, senior party figures have been hesitant to discuss the details of Gray’s appointment, with some suggesting that she was rewarded for her work on partygate. Former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has accused Gray of having been “rewarded and offered a plum job for effectively destroying a prime minister and creating a coup,” sparking controversy over the neutrality of the UK civil service.

The delay in Gray’s appointment is seen by some as a sign of Labour’s desire to avoid controversy and maintain credibility with voters. With the party currently riding high in the opinion polls, any perceived missteps could damage Starmer’s chances of securing power in the next general election.

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