Blair's Asbo adviser mocks Government plans

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The Independent Online

Louise Casey was under pressure to resign last night after a leaked recording of her comments revealed her boasting about getting "hammered" and joking that some Ministers might perform better if they "turn up in the morning pissed".

Ms Casey took a high profile with her appointment as director of the Home Office's anti-social behaviour unit three years ago.

Her stream of invective, which prompted several diners to walk out, stunned the Home Office, which is investigating the incident. Ms Casey is expected to apologise in the next few days for her comments at a private dinner in Stratford-upon-Avon on 7 June to an audience of police chiefs, Home Office officials and criminal justice specialists.

She told her audience: "I suppose you can't binge drink anymore because lots of people have said you can't do it. I don't know who bloody made that up, it's nonsense." She added: "Doing things sober is no way to get things done."

Ms Casey took a swipe at Downing Street, which she suggested was "obsessed" with conducting research before formulating policy. She said: "If No 10 says bloody 'evidence-based policy' to me one more time I'll deck them ... and probably get unemployed."

Recalling her first meeting with a Minister, she said: "Honest to God. You sit down and you think: 'I've made it. I'm seeing a Minister!' ... The most powerful person in that room is Betsy who brings the tea round."

In the 45-minute speech she referred to Charles Clarke as "Charlie Boy", and criticised Mr Blair for backing a shopping centre's stand against "hoodies".

One diner told The Independent: "A lot of people laughed, but others laughed at her. There was a lot of bemusement and some walked out. She veered from after-dinner speech to reminiscence and serious policy stuff. She had had something to drink. There was wine on the table and everyone got stuck in."

The Home Office's permanent secretary, Sir John Gieve, has begun an investigation into her remarks.

Coming to her rescue, a No 10 spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister's regard for Louise Casey is well known and is based on her record of achievement. These remarks were made after a dinner. A lot of people have said things after dinner and, when they see them in the cold light of day, regret them."

But Jonathan Baume, general secretary of the FDA trade union, which represents senior civil servants, said: "Ms Casey's reported remarks are a clear breach of the Civil Service Code. It has to be made extremely clear that this is not acceptable behaviour from a civil servant - you cannot make these kind of remarks or attack ministers."

David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "What I want to know from Mr Blair is whether his chief adviser's comments reflect his own views - or those of the Home Secretary?"