Whitehall sacking is blamed on Oxbridge factor

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Indy Politics
THE DOMINATION of Oxbridge and the old school tie in the Civil Service was criticised yesterday after Downing Street confirmed that Sir Peter Kemp was being sacked as Permanent Secretary at the Office of Public Service and Science by William Waldegrave, the minister responsible for the Citizen's Charter, science and the Civil Service.

Sir Peter, 57, said he was 'miffed' and 'cheesed off' at being offered no alternative post in a reshuffle of senior Civil Service posts. His rise to the highest grade without a university degree was seen as a break with the Civil Service tradition of recruiting high-flyers from Oxford and Cambridge.

Mr Waldegrave will be cross- examined about the sacking by the Treasury select committee when Parliament resumes in October. Giles Radice, a past Labour chairman of its Civil Service sub-committee, said: 'Sir Peter has been shabbily treated just because his face doesn't fit. It is the revenge of Whitehall.'

Sir Peter said it would seem that Oxbridge had won after all. His enforced early retirement was criticised as 'unprecedented and wholly undesirable' by the First Division Association of senior civil servants (FDA), which said he had been a role model for many young civil servants without university backgrounds.

'Many civil servants will be astounded by what has happened, given Sir Peter's record of achievement,' Elizabeth Symons, its general secretary, said. 'The message that this will convey to those trying to improve the quality of service in the public sector will be an entirely negative one.'

Sir Peter said: 'It has left me feeling a bit miffed. The line I have been trying to peddle for the last few years is that the Civil Service ought to be more tough and rough and be a bit more like the 'outside world'. But I find it hard to speak about it because in one sense, the mandarin in me tells me this is the sort of thing that is not totally unexpected. The person in me is a bit cheesed off. On the other hand, they always say you don't necessarily have to go golfing or gardening, so I see it as a challenge.'

Sir Peter, who has no garden, said he would contact a few headhunters. But he expressed concern that the changes which he championed should not suffer by the apparent reassertion of Oxbridge orthodoxy. 'The FDA is right. Young people are coming on, encouraged that this is a new modern Civil Service and they are going to say, 'it was Oxbridge after all'.'

He will clear his desk in mid- August. His replacement, Richard Mottram, 46, went to the University of Keele, but is a career civil servant, having risen through the ranks at the Ministry of Defence since 1968.

Sir Peter was responsible for encouraging private-sector disciplines in the Civil Service, and was project manager in charge of hiving off 70 Next Steps agencies at the Cabinet Office.

He entered the Civil Service in 1967 when he was hired by the Ministry of Transport after working as an accountant in British Guiana.

Sir Peter said Mr Waldegrave had told him he wanted someone with 'different skills'. Sir Peter said: 'I was not aware of any personal difficulties. It's not unreasonable that he wanted someone with different skills. It is not that there has been a falling out. My forte is project management, bringing about change. He might have thought he wanted an administrator.'

But he added: 'I find it more puzzling that nobody could find a job in the public service for me. It's rather a pity.'

----------------------------------------------------------------- MANDARINS ON THE MOVE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Name Education Old Job New Job Sir John Caines, 59 Westminster and Permanent Secretary, Retiring Christ Church, Oxford Education (pounds 87,620) Sir Geoffrey Holland, 54 Merchant Taylor's, London, and Permanent Permanent St John's College, Secretary, Secretary, Oxford Employment Education (pounds 87,620) (pounds 87,620) Nicholas Monck, 57 Eton College and Second Permanent Permanent King's College, Secretary, the Secretary, Cambridge Treasury Employment (pounds 80,600) (pounds 87,620) Richard Mottram, 46 King Edward VI Deputy Secretary Deputy Camphill, Ministry of Secretary, Birmingham, and Keele Defence (pounds Office of 73,216) Public Service (pounds 87,620) Andrew Turnbull, 47 Enfield Grammar and Deputy Secretary, Second Christ's College, The Treasury Permanent Cambridge (pounds 73,216) Secretary the Treasury (pounds 80,600) ------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Photograph omitted)