Whitehall rejoices at demise of Jo Moore

Revenge » 'Everyone is very pleased that she's gone' says senior civil servant as Department of Transport faces further purge
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Jo Moore's reputation for riding roughshod over civil servants, the cause of her downfall, prompted the smell of revenge around Whitehall over her resignation.

"Everyone is very pleased she has gone," said one senior civil servant as some of her former colleagues celebrated her departure. "She was a special adviser with a difference. Her hands were virtually on every announcement that came out of her Department.

"I hope they have realised now that civil servants trying to outflank and undermine government and political people is tantamount to a coup," said a ministerial aide.

Tomorrow, more press officers will be told they are being moved out of their troubled glass and steel ministerial offices by Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Byers. Some senior ministers privately say he should have sacked Ms Moore much earlier, as soon as her notorious email suggesting 11 September was a "good day to bury bad news" had leaked.

His own judgement has been called into question by his loyalty to Ms Moore. Downing Street had wanted to ditch her last October but he refused. Tony Blair bowed to his judgement. In retrospect that looks like a bad mistake for both men.

Martin Sixsmith, who was forced to resign with Jo Moore, is blamed for allowing his press department to become "dysfunctional with all the leaking," said one source. "He was the Director of Information and he did nothing to stop it."

Sir Richard Mottram, the permanent secretary at the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, has also been damaged by the row. He was seen as a likely successor to Sir Richard Wilson, the Cabinet Secretary, but those hopes may now have been dashed. He is blamed by some senior ministers – like Mr Sixsmith – for presiding over a warring department and doing nothing to stop it.

"There is a real issue surrounding Richard Mottram's future now. If he has been offering protection to the people responsible for this hatchet job, he should go too," said a Whitehall insider.

Before Mr Sixsmith, a former BBC Moscow correspondent, arrived, there were rumours that Ms Moore had forced out his predecessor Alun Evans for refusing to issue a party political attack on Bob Kiley, Ken Livingstone's transport commissioner, as part of the campaign against the Mayor over the semi-privatisation of the Tube.

Mr Sixsmith clearly intended to stand up to Ms Moore and e-mailed Mr Byers last week to stop her "burying" an announcement on the same day as Princess Margaret's funeral. The memo said: "You spoke about doing this on Friday. We should not (underlined) do this on Friday because it is the day of Princess Margaret's burial. There are too many connotations on the word burial."

One source said: "It was written in a provocative way and it looked as though it had been written to be leaked." Even if that was not the intention, the civil war in the department meant it was certain to get out.

Mr Sixsmith lost any friends in Downing Street when he let Godric Smith, one of the Prime Minister's two official spokesmen, tell journalists that the email did not exist. That was a fatal mistake.