Labour says Michael Gove aide should resign if he breached code through implying journalist needed therapy


Deputy Political Editor

Labour today said a controversial adviser to Education Secretary Michael Gove should resign if - as appeared to be the case - he was in breach of his profession's Code of Conduct by implying that a journalist required therapy.

Ian Mearns, a member of the Commons education select committee, claimed the adviser, Dominic Cummings, “appears to be in clear breach of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers” with his comments.

“If that is proven to be the case, the appropriate course of action would be for him to resign,” he added. “The Secretary of State has responsibility for the discipline of his special advisers - he has to act now.”

His comments follow an article in today's Independent revealing that Mr Cummings had implied a journalist needed therapy.

Mr Cummings made the remark in an email protesting about reports describing sometimes heavy-handed methods adopted by special advisers at the Department for Education - one of several in newspapers complaining about the behaviour of special advisers..

“It seems that Dominic Cummings is asking for an invitation from the select committee to come and give evidence himself,” Mr Mearns added.

“I personally think the Select Committee would be extremely interested to hear directly from the horse's mouth how relationships between special advisers and ministers and special advisers and civil servants work within the department.

”I also think the select committee would be really interested to know how the behaviour of individuals within the department relates to the guidance of the Ministerial Code with regards to their special advisers so we can see for ourselves what exactly has taken place.“

Mr Cummings' jibe was aimed at Chris Cook, former education correspondent on the Financial Times, who has been involved in a long wrangle with Mr Gove about ministers' use of private email accounts for government business.

Mr Cummings made the comments in an angry email to The Independent's education editor Richard Garner.  He criticised a comment article written by Garner and told him he should ”speak to Chris Cook about a good therapist…..[if] you really think that counts as 'wrath'“.

Members of the Commons select committee are due to meet next Tuesday - when they will consider whether to recall Mr Gove to give evidence to them after claims he had misled MPs by denying he had any knowledge of any use of intimidating tactics by advisers.  It subsequently transpired that a civil servant was awarded a £25,000 pay-out after claiming intimidation - although advisers were cleared of any improper conduct.

Last week the select committee, which has five Conservative, five Labour and one Liberal Democrat MPs, decided to write to Mr Gove asking him for a further explanation of his comments.  Mr Gove pre-empted the letter by responding immediately her heard of the approach, confirming he had no knowledge of the affair.

Tuesday's meeting will determine the committee's next move against the background of further reports about Mr Cummings' behaviour.

The Code of Conduct for Special Advisers includes an instruction to avoid ”personal attacks“.  In response to the email, Mr Cummings said: ”The Independent seems to be on a kamikaze mission to go bust as fast as possible by writing ludicrous and dishonest stories.“

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before