ConservativeHome has a special interest in the case of Nick Timothy, one of Theresa May’s special advisers (SpAds), since we broke the story of his removal from the Candidates’ List.
It begins with SpAds to Conservative Ministers being instructed by the Party to telephone canvass during the Rochester and Strood by-election. It continues with Timothy requesting clarification from the Cabinet Office, since the Code of Conduct that governs SpAds bars them from canvassing in by-elections. It ends with the Cabinet Office not responding to his request, Timothy refusing to telephone canvass in its absence…and then being taken off the list in consequence after David Cameron was consulted. His SpAd colleague in the Home Office, Stephen Parkinson, took the same stance – and was also removed from the list.
The Public Administration Committee – which is chaired by Bernard Jenkin, and on which four other Tory MPs sit – has now reported on the incident. It concludes that the Party’s instruction was “misguided” and “wrong in law”; that it is unacceptable for Ministers or civil servants to be “complicit” in the matter, and that the SpAds in question should not have been refused the ruling they asked for. Readers will remember that not only was Timothy taken off the Candidates’ List – without being informed of the decision – but struck out of the Parliamentary selection in Aldridge-Brownhills, to which he had previously applied. CCHQ told the Association’s sift committee that he had withdrawn voluntarily. This claim was untrue.
In the light of the PAC’s authoritative report, the Party has only one honourable course open to it – namely, to apologise to both Timothy and Parkinson before reinstating them on the List.