Sue Gray faces two years without pay and pressure is mounting on Sir Keir Starmer to come clean about the meetings he had with the former investigator at the party gate.
Rishi Sunak thought it was “disappointing” that Ms Gray had chosen not to face a Cabinet Office inquiry into her move to become Labor chief of staff.
Sir Keir approached her about the job last October, at least four months before her appointment was announced, Sky News reported.
Both Labor and the Government said Ms Gray was no longer being paid by the Government after she resigned in March.
Labor said they were not paying her and were unlikely to be until she took the job.
The party said it will abide by the advice of the Advisory Committee for Business Appointments (Acoba), which could require Ms Gray to wait from three months to two years before taking up the post.
If the watcher decides to indicate that she will stay the longest amount of time, she may have to wait for two years without receiving any salary.
Labor also said it would appoint Ms Gray regardless of how long Acoba delayed implementation.
Asked whether she would be hired regardless of how long her appointment is delayed, Sir Keir’s spokesman said: “Sue Gray will be the head of Keir Starmer’s team.”
A Tory source said this meant Labor was planning to appoint her even if a Cabinet Office inquiry found she had broken Civil Service rules.
Labor defended Ms Gray for not co-operating with the “political gimmick” review and for prioritizing the “standard” process carried out by the Whitehall anti-corruption watchdog.
It came after the Cabinet Office on Tuesday released an update on Ms Gray’s departure from her senior Whitehall post, which, contrary to press briefings, said she had broken rules by speaking to the opposition while still work for the Government. .
Instead, Oliver Dowden, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the Government would “consider the next steps” after “choosing not to engage”.
He said Number 10 had submitted a “confidential assessment” to Acoba.
The independent watchdog will recommend a cooling-off period of between three months and two years to avoid any conflict of interest once it has completed its own separate review.
The news that Ms Gray was leaving her senior role in the Civil Service with plans to become Sir Keir’s chief of staff sparked outrage among MPs in March.
Sir Keir has repeatedly refused to reveal the timeline of their communications. Asked about Sky’s claim, Labor said: “All the information has gone to Acoba and not for comment during an active process.”
It was reported that Ms Gray questioned the position of the Cabinet Office investigation into his event and the rules under which it would be carried out.
The Prime Minister’s press secretary said she did not recognize reports that the former mandarin refused to face the internal inquiry because it was on shaky legal ground, and that this may have contributed to Simon Case, the Secretary Cabinet, blocking plans for a more complete release. assessment of her job transfer.
They told reporters in Westminster: “The Prime Minister is clearly not involved in this process. But it is clearly disappointing that Sue Gray was offered to cooperate and chose not to do so.
“I think the most disappointing thing is that Keir Starmer has been able to come clean very quickly when his office or he has contacted Sue Gray to protect the integrity of the Civil Service and ensure that it is transparent and open.”
Sir Keir’s spokesman stressed that Labor is “fully supportive” of the anti-corruption watchdog’s discussions about moving Ms Gray’s job.
Earlier on Wednesday, Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, described the internal inquiry as a “political gimmick” launched by the Government to pursue a “vendetta” against the former civil servant who looked into allegations of Downing Street parties with during the Covid lockdown. .
She told Times Radio: “The issue here is that there are two inquiries. There is the usual one – the Acoba process, which Sue Gray is fully cooperating with – and then there is the political gimmick set up by government ministers to pursue this vendetta they have against Sue Gray.”
Asked about the retaliation claim, Mr Sunak’s press secretary said: “I don’t think that’s the case at all.”
Sir Keir insisted he was “confident” Ms Gray had not broken any rules, saying she had “no discussion with her when she was investigating Boris Johnson at all, I don’t think anyone is saying that the a story”.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman declined to comment on reports that Mr Case, who initially backed the release of the findings criticizing Ms Gray’s departure, blocked the plans amid concerns over the publication of a politically charged report of a former direct official days before the local elections when the Govt. Purdah rules of political impartiality are meant to be observed.