Peer vetoed by Byers quits Labour

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A former special adviser to Labour has quit the party whip after Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Transport, blocked his appointment as head of the public spending watchdog.

Lord Warner, who was a senior adviser to Jack Straw, moved to the crossbenches after being told he was about to be named chairman of the Audit Commission. But Mr Byers subsequently vetoed the move because of fears it would be seen as another example of Labour cronyism.

Lord Warner, who friends said was livid about Mr Byers' decision, has now told Labour chiefs he does not want to return to the party fold.

The peer, a former social services director, was a government policy adviser from 1997 to 1998. He was made a Labour peer in 1998 after his appointment as chairman of the Youth Justice Board. Lord Warner applied for the £36,000 a year part-time Audit Commission post last October.

Labour refused to comment on Lord Warner's decision beyond confirming that he had discussed it with Lord Carter, the Chief Whip in the Lords.