Raab refuses to say if Geidt resignation letter will be published

Dominic Raab has refused to confirm that a resignation letter from Boris Johnson’s outgoing ethics adviser will be released, as pressure grew on the government to come clean about the reason for Christopher Geidt’s shock departure.

The deputy prime minister said it was “not quite right to say you, as a matter of principle, publish all the details” – citing possible concerns over a breach of confidentiality or national security issues.

After Lord Geidt stepped down with only a two-sentence statement from the Cabinet Office announcing his decision on Wednesday night, Raab said more details would be made public shortly.

“You don’t have to wait long, there’s going to be a further update from No 10 later today,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

MPs are likely to quiz a minister on Geidt’s resignation in the Commons later during an urgent question, granted to Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Fleur Anderson.

Raab said that earlier this week Geidt had asked to extend his tenure for another six months, adding he was “surprised” at the sudden decision.

Geidt had also recently been asked to give advice on a “specific commercially sensitive issue” and faced an “intense grilling” by MPs on a select committee, Raab said – although stressed he did not know the specific reason why Geidt quit.

Given Geidt’s previous public statements revealing his unhappiness at Johnson’s refusal to explain how being fined by police for breaking Covid lockdown laws wasn’t a breach of the the ministerial code, Raab admitted the government had been through a “difficult time over Partygate”.

But he said Johnson had “given full accountability to parliament” and “overhauled No 10”, adding: “I think there is a genuine case for moving on.”

Despite the government normally publishing an exchange of letters when a senior official offers their resignation to the prime minister, neither the Cabinet Office nor No 10 have done so.

The Guardian was told he wrote a lengthy resignation note to Johnson on Wednesday that was “strongly worded”.

Chris Bryant, a Labour MP and chair of the Commons standards committee, said in the wake of Raab’s comments that “the government must publish Lord Geidt’s letter today”.

Sir Philip Mawer, a former parliamentary commissioner for standards, echoed that call and said: “If the letter and the prime minister’s reply are not published then I think people will draw their own conclusion and it will not be favourable.”

He said Geidt’s “frustration in the role has been apparent for a while” and that there had been a “succession of failures” by Johnson, adding: “It’s not just Partygate.”

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On Wednesday night, the Home Office minister, Tom Pursglove, said it was “for Lord Geidt, if he wishes, to set his reasons out” for quitting.

If the government refuses to release Geidt’s letter, Commons sources said MPs could attempt to force its hand by tabling a humble address – a special type of parliamentary motion that summons the publications of documents.

Geidt is the second ethics adviser who has resigned during Johnson’s premiership. Alex Allan quit in November 2020 after the prime minister overruled his finding that the home secretary, Priti Patel, had bullied staff.

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