Sleaze watchdog to investigate advisers

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Indy Politics

Charges that the Civil Service has been "politicised" are to be investigated by the anti-sleaze watchdog.

The role of special advisers, such as Jo Moore, and their relationship to ministers and civil servants will be examined by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

The inquiry will ask whether special advisers have too much power over their Whitehall colleagues, and whether ministers have pushed civil servants to overstep the boundaries of political impartiality.

The powerful committee, led by Sir Nigel Wicks, will also look at parliamentary standards. It will ask whether the power of self-regulation should be taken away from MPs facing inquiries into their conduct. It will examine whether the reputation of Parliament has been damaged by continuing inquiries into members' conduct; whether the rules governing conduct are outdated; and whether political lobbyists should face greater regulation.

Elizabeth Filkin,who quit as Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after alleging that she was the victim of a "whispering campaign" by MPs, is expected to give evidence. She will be asked whether the investigative powers she was given were sufficient.