As some of you will remember, last year we broke the story of how two of Theresa May’s special advisers were removed from the candidate’s list after refusing to campaign in the Rochester and Strood by-election.
Timothy believed that the Special Adviser code of conduct forbade political activity of that sort. After seeking – and failing – to get a ruling on whether they could participate from the Civil Service, he and Stephen Parkinson refused to take part were removed from the candidates list.
A report by the Public Administration Committee, chaired by Bernard Jenkin, found in favour of the two SpAds. As we wrote at the time:
“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.”
This site urged the Party to apologise to both men and restore them to the candidates list..
A new set of rules have been published this month, and the rules on special advisers engaging in political activity clarified. Section 18, part ii now reads:
“If a special adviser wishes to take part in an election or by-election campaign, he/she is able to do so in their own time and out of office hours. They may not use annual or unpaid leave for this purpose”.
Whilst the clarification is welcome, it will come as little comfort to Timothy, who in his own words “devoted most of [his] adult life to the Conservative Party, as a volunteer and officer and as a professional”, and might now have been the MP for Aldridge-Brownhills had either the Civil Service deigned to clarify its rules or CCHQ not been quite so hung up about a telephone canvassing session or two.