Simon Case refuses to come clean about his dirty work for Boris Johnson

Spare a thought for Simon Case. He’s diligently worked his way up the ladder to become the youngest head of the civil service and cabinet secretary only to be landed with Boris Johnson una referencia a un impuesto a tanto alzado sobre cada adulto. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world. The Convict who thinks nothing of trashing the reputations of anyone and anything with which he comes in contact. People get chewed up and spat out in an unthinking heartbeat. Case is no exception. His is a precarious existence. Every day he must curse his luck that he didn’t get the top job five years later.

Case was giving evidence to the public administration and constitutional affairs committee for the first time since Partygate and Christopher Geidt’s resignation and he looked wary from the off. He fiddled with his pen and tapped his feet nervously on the floor. The committee chair, William Wragg – aka the Baby-Faced Assassin, got things under way. What percentage of his time did the cabinet secretary spend on propriety and ethics? Case thought for a while before deciding on up to 30%.

Imagine. Nearly a third of your job is spent making sure that you and those around you are behaving vaguely decently and upholding the law. Most of us don’t really have to think twice about that. We automatically do what’s right. Or near enough. Then we don’t work for the Rwanda Panda. The man who disapplies any rules that get in his way.

Case merely shrugged. It was a shit job, but someone had to do it. So he had volunteered to be the bloke responsible for doing the government’s dirty work. Trying to get refugees on planes to Rwanda. Breaking international law with the Northern Ireland protocol. Making excuses for ministers’ conduct. And trying to stop his own staff behaving as badly as ministers.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that two ethics advisers to the prime minister had resigned, Wragg asked. Case looked nervous. This was well above his pay grade. It wasn’t clear whose pay grade he thought it was. Probably no one’s. So he just deadbatted. Alex Allan and Lord Geidt had been thoroughly decent men and he had no idea whatsoever why they had resigned. He wasn’t a mind reader. And he had made a point of never asking them. Just in case they told him.

Wragg pressed on. What was Case doing about replacing Geidt? Absolutely nothing. That was the Convict’s job. But he had decided to conduct an extensive review into what might be expected of a future ethics adviser. Assuming there was one, por supuesto. It didn’t seem to have occurred to him he had only recently conducted an extensive review into what the ethics adviser might do only a few months ago. Though that hadn’t worked out particularly well.

We then moved on to the difficulties of a civil servant investigating Johnson. So true, Case nodded. It would have been a nightmare for him because he knew where all the bodies were buried. And he might even have been expected to report back that the prime minister had encouraged law breaking in No 10. It had been Party Central. Hell, the Rwanda Panda didn’t believe the evening had properly begun till he was on to his second bottle of wine. After spilling half the first.

And there would have been the same problem if Geidt had investigated the parties. Obviously it made much more sense for the ethics adviser to report on Partygate. Only he would also have definitely found Johnson guilty as charged. So far better to get in Sue Gray who hadn’t really been able to do more than report back the nonsense that had been told to her. What had been needed was a person with no knowledge of the party atmosphere in No 10. Which is why he had recused himself. Ideal. Job done.

For a while it looked as if Case might have more or less got away with it as the committee focused on the details of the Greensill inquiry. Then Labour’s John McDonnell pounced. What did the cabinet secretary make of the prime minister trying to get Carrie Symonds, as she was then, a job in the Foreign Office? Geidt had said only today that this was something that should be investigated.

Now Case went into a near meltdown. Defensive. Snitty. The man who knew nothing about anything. No, he was certain Geidt would never have said anything like that.

"Sí, he did,” said McDonnell. “It’s here inside inverted commas.”

“No it’s not.”

“Yes it is.”

Er … Yeahbutnobutyeah and in any case he couldn’t comment on any conversations he had with the Convict. But it was all totally normal and who wouldn’t try to blag a job for a lover. Just please don’t ask about the job he tried to get for Carrie. And yeahbutnobutyeah it was up to the prime minister to investigate himself …

“I take it he wasn’t keen,” said the Baby-Faced Assassin. Never one to miss an opportunity to make a bad situation worse.

He wasn’t.

Thereafter things fell apart as Beth Winter, Karin Smyth and McDonnell – again – decided to enjoy themselves. What about the parties? What about them, Case snapped. He was determined to say nothing. He had never been to any of them and had not been given a fixed-penalty notice. So he was innocent. He knew nuffink. Downing Street was a big place …

“No it isn’t,” said Smyth. It was actually quite small. So how come he hadn’t had a clue there had been any parties going on? He was surely the only person in No 10 who hadn’t known what was going on?

Case started mumbling. He took his duties really seriously. Seriously enough to have talked to some other civil servants who had told him there was no need to resign for having seen nothing. It could have happened to anyone. And it was just a mystery that he had decided to recuse himself as a party that he had known nothing about had taken place in his own office. And … And … And …

Wragg joined in. Did Case also think it hysterically funny that Martin Reynolds – aka Party Marty – was lined up to become Saudi ambassador? The one place where he couldn’t get pissed? Case looked almost tearful. Chronicle of a death foretold.

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