Thursday 14 December 2017

Brown advised on how he should treat staff

James Kirkup in London

The head of the British civil service has admitted discussing with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown how he should treat his staff.

Gus O'Donnell said he told Mr Brown that he needed to be positive and supportive towards his officials. He made the admission as Mr Brown faced fresh questions over his treatment of colleagues.

Mr Brown was under pressure in the wake of claims made in a book by Andrew Rawnsley, a political commentator, who reported that Mr O'Donnell had given Mr Brown "a pep talk" about his relations with officials amid concern at No 10 that his outbursts left staff "bruised" and demoralised.

Questioned by MPs yesterday, Mr O'Donnell denied warning Mr Brown about his behaviour, but admitted that he had encouraged him to be positive and supportive.

Support

He said he made a point of saying: "It is really important that you show your support to the civil service."

Mr O'Donnell refused to say if he had discussed the matter with Mr Rawnsley.

The 'Daily Telegraph' disclosed that Jeremy Heywood, the senior civil servant in Mr Brown's office, had dinner with Mr Rawnsley in September. Downing Street insisted that Mr Heywood had not discussed Mr Brown's behaviour.

The book reported that two aides to Mr Brown, Charlie Whelan and Damian McBride, tried to undermine Chancellor Alistair Darling in 2008 after he predicted that the UK faced the worst downturn for 60 years.

Mr Darling endorsed that report on Monday night when he accused Downing Street of "unleashing the forces of hell" against him and suggested that Mr Whelan and Mr McBride planted newspaper stories suggesting he was to be sacked.

Both aides have denied briefing against Mr Darling. Mr O'Donnell refused to say if he had ever received complaints about the behaviour of Mr Whelan and Mr McBride.

Relations between Mr Darling and Mr Brown were strained last year when Mr Brown attempted to remove his fellow Scot from the treasury, only to back down when Mr Darling said he would quit rather than be demoted.

Mr Brown and Mr Darling held a private meeting to "clear the air" yesterday and, in a show of unity, Mr Darling was at Mr Brown's side during Prime Minister's Questions. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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