Michael Gove should be sacked if he leaked the Queen's views about the EU referendum, Labour says

Tom Watson said the Justice Secretary's denial was 'less than categoric' and warned against a cover-up

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Michael Gove should be sacked if he leaked the Queen’s private views about the European Union, Labour has said.

Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader said the Justice Secretary’s denial that he was the source of a story in The Sun newspaper did not appear to be categorical. 

Buckingham Palace has complained to the press regulator Ipso that front page claiming she “backs Brexit” was inaccurate. 

Tom Watson demanded a full inquiry into whether the Justice Secretary was the source of the story

The paper however stands by the story, arguing that it was based on two “impeccable” parliamentary sources.

Mr Gove said last week: “I don't know how The Sun got all its information and I don't think it's really worth my adding anything to what's already been said.”

Privy councillors have close access to the Queen but are sworn to secrecy about her views – especially on political matters, where she is supposed to remain politically impartial by constitutional convention.

The Government rejected Mr Watson’s call for a full investigation into whether Mr Gove leaked the Monarch’s alleged views, arguing that no “further action” was required on the matter. 

Copies of Britain's 'The Sun' newspapers are sold at a store in London, Britain, 09 March 2016.

Labour’s deputy leader warned the Government against a “cover-up”, however. 

“Three members [of the privy council] have categorically denied that they are the source, yet the Justice Secretary has only said ‘I don’t know how the Sun got all its information’. Hardly categoric,” he said at an urgent question in the House of Commons.

He argued that the public “have a right to know” whether Mr Gove, who supports leaving the EU himself, was the source of the allegations about the Queen.

“Only a minister or prime minister can order that investigation [into whether Mr Gove was the leak] – a cover-up will not do,” he said.

“Surely any member of the privy council who was a source of this story who whose special advisor or ally was stands in contempt of his privy council oath and should be removed from office if he won’t honorably resign himself?”

Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House of Commons, said he did not think any further action should be taken, however.

“My predecessor the then Lord President [Nick Clegg] has said that the story was categorically untrue,” he said.

“As the House is aware Buckingham Palace has referred the matter to Ipso, the new press complaints body. Given all of this I do not believe there is any need for further action here.”

The Sun newspaper alleged that the Queen said she didn’t “understand” European integration during a lunch with privy councillors after privy council meeting.

A source told the newspaper: “People who heard their conversation were left in no doubt at all about the Queen’s views on European integration.”