The former Tory Education minister Tim Loughton has turned his fire on his old boss Michael Gove by tabling a series of hostile parliamentary questions designed to unseat the Education Secretary’s key adviser.
In a significant escalation of hostilities between the former minister and his old colleagues at the Department of Education, he has used parliamentary procedure to question whether any formal complaints have been made about Dominic Cummings.
His questions come weeks after he accused Mr Gove of running his department in an “anachronistic [and] bureaucratic” way and appear designed to undermine Mr Cummings following a row over his behaviour towards journalists.
The questions ask how many formal complaints Mr Gove’s department has received about the conduct of special advisers since 2010 from other members of staff, officials from other departments and members of the public.
It also asks how many formal grievance procedures by staff have taken place in the department in each of the last five years and how many of those grievances have resulted in payouts.
In a response published on the House of Commons website, Liz Truss, the Children’s minister, replies the department has received one formal complaint about a special adviser that was not upheld.
She adds that the department has not received any other formal complaints about special advisers. There have been no pay-offs as an outcome of an internal grievance being upheld.
Mr Loughton is believed to blame those close to Mr Gove for briefings to The Spectator that called him a “lazy incompetent narcissist”. It also follows a row between Mr Cummings and journalists over heavy-handed methods when dealing with questions.