Stephen Byers, Transport Secretary, did not resign - nor was he sacked
Stephen Byers, Transport Secretary, came to the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday 26th February) to announce, amongst other matters, that he HAD LIED last Sunday during a television interview when he had indicated he was not involved in the decision to seek the resignation of his Communications Director, Martin Sixsmith, a career civil servant, as a part of the 'package' for accepting the resignation of Jo Moore, his Special Advisor (aka politically-appointed, but publicly-paid, 'spin doctor'), she of 'burying bad news'-fame on 11th September 2001.
Yesterday Mr Byers indicated not only that this was a barefaced lie (or, in his words, "I am sorry if there was any confusion" - sigh), but he went much further - he said in the most brutal language possible that he did not want Mr Sixsmith to be appointed to any other job in government "although I am not in a position to prevent it" - this latter because government ministers traditionally do not control civil service appointments.
Saint Tony, our beloved PM, after initially distancing himself and Downing Street from overt support for Mr Byers before his House of Commons statement, immediately called Mr Byers and Sir Richard Mottram (Permanent Secretary at the Transport Department, that's to say the senior civil servantin the department) to Downing Street. We are not told what Sir Richard's reaction was when leaving, but it is reported that Tony Blair has given Mr Byers his "full support" - interestingly, it is reported that a principal reason for this is because of the fact that Mr Byers was strongly supported by Labour backbenchers in the House of Commons yesterday; it is alleged, in reports, that had this support not been so strong, then Mr Blair would probably already have dispensed with Mr Byers's undoubted valuable services.
This is the way government is being run at present in the United Kingdom - a stark reminder, if any were needed, of how fragile is democracy and truth where the self-serving interests of politicians are concerned.
And still the transport infrastructure of the country is in a shambles.
See later report (28 May 2002), when Stephen Byers finally retired.
Copyright © 2002 William Cameron