Boris Johnson wasted thousands of pounds of public money ignoring formal advice to pay a special adviser who was escorted out of Downing Street following a clash with Dominic Cummings.
Documents released Tuesday show the prime minister rescinded the opinion of Civil Service Director General John Manzoni in March that the government should seek a settlement with Sonia Khan, former advisor to then Chancellor Sajid Javid .
Johnson refused to listen to the advice, meaning the case continued until November, resulting in increased legal costs. Khan was finally paid between £ 50,000 and £ 100,000 in November, days after Cummings announced he would step down from Downing Street at the end of this year. Legal sources estimate the total cost, including Khan’s gain, could be almost £ 200,000.
It also emerged that Cummings had received a salary increase of around £ 40,000 for his role as Johnson’s chief adviser, according to official figures. The prime minister’s senior aide, who is set to officially step down on December 18, is paid between £ 140,000 and £ 144,999. This is a raise in his salary from £ 95,000 to £ 99,999, which was released in figures last December.
Khan was Javid’s media advisor when in August 2019 she was escorted by police from No.10 after Cummings accused her of misleading her about her contacts with people close to the former chancellor Philip Hammond. She denied any inappropriate contact. Javid was furious to learn of her dismissal after the event.
In a letter sent on March 3, Manzoni wrote: “Taking into account the current expenses of defending the case and the possible costs that a court may award, I advise you, taking into account the legal and financial analysis, that ‘a new negotiation is carried out. to seek to avoid litigation. “
Johnson responded by letter the next day. “The legal position is clear: the Prime Minister can withdraw his consent to the appointment of any special adviser. This is the reason for the dismissal and I am satisfied that a letter of reasons is sent to the individual explaining it.
“I don’t think individuals should receive more compensation than they are entitled to under their contract, so I believe this claim should be tested in litigation. “
Khan’s attorney argued that what Cummings did personally, rather than as an agent for the employer, could give rise to action. He was to be called as a witness.
Khan, 29, was accused by Cummings of lying about his conversations with former Hammond staff member Poppy Trowbridge. It is understood that Khan was asked to hand over his work phone and also presented his personal phone to Cummings.
The government finally paid Khan in November after a five-day hearing for the unfair dismissal case was set for that month.
Dave Penman, the FDA union leader, who backed Khan’s contention, said: “This is an extraordinary exchange of letters, demonstrating how far the Prime Minister would go to pursue a vindictive agenda against an adviser. special they knew had been unfairly dismissed. .
“The Prime Minister was happy to waste taxpayer money rather than admit he was wrong, even though he knew that by issuing a ministerial directive his harshness and debauchery with public finances would eventually come to light . It was only when faced with the cold reality of having to testify under oath in court that they chose to settle down.