Senior civil servant to testify at Sixsmith inquiry

The senior civil servant at the heart of the Sixsmith affair is to give evidence to an official inquiry into conflicts between special advisers and civil servants.

Sir Richard Mottram, who became embroiled in the saga involving Stephen Byers, the former secretary of state for transport, his special adviser Jo Moore, and head of press Martin Sixsmith, has agreed to give evidence to the Wicks Committee on Standards in Public Life next month.

The former permanent secretary at the department of transport was a key figure in the infamous events that led to the resignation of Ms Moore, Mr Sixsmith and eventually the Secretary of State.

His evidence could cast fresh light on infighting in the department, which led to its reform as part of Tony Blair's cabinet reshuffle.

He will be asked by senior members on the committee whether there are sufficient controls in place to cope with powerful special advisers and conflicts with the Civil Service. Sir Richard will also be asked whether he believed "bullying" had destabilised the department and slowed down policy development.

Philip Mawer, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, has also agreed to give evidence.

Sir Richard has already been questioned by MPs on the Public Administration Select Committee about his role in the Byers affair.

He has recently been moved from the Department of Transport to the Department of Work and Pensions.

He will be asked whether he was personally asked to sack Jo Moore and whether he felt he had the power to discipline a special adviser who had been appointed by Mr Byers.

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