Civil service recruits new HR chief after Number 10 treatment of special advisers

PUBLISHED: 13:23 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:23 24 February 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's key adviser Dominic Cummings leaving his north London home. Photograph: David Mirzoeff/PA.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's key adviser Dominic Cummings leaving his north London home. Photograph: David Mirzoeff/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

The Cabinet Office is seeking a new civil servant to oversee human resources policy for ministerial special advisers.

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A job advert placed on the government's website calls for an "HR policy lead" who will play a "key role in establishing the cross-government special adviser HR function".

The "high-profile and stretching role" - with a salary of up to £60,635 - would see the successful candidate being asked to "revise and embed a full suite of HR policies, processes and principles ensuring they are fit for purpose".

It follows a series of concerns about the treatment of special advisers - known as spads - after an adviser to former chancellor Sajid Javid, Sonia Khan, was escorted out of Downing Street by police officers after being sacked by Dominic Cummings.

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Javid resigned after he was told to sack his staff as part of the latest cabinet reshuffle, while home secretary Priti Patel is under fire following allegations of 'bullying' staff in the Home Office.

Cummings was challenged at an internal meeting of aides in Number 10 earlier this month, with one spad saying it was "unkind" of him to say half of them would be fired.

Buzzfeed News, citing a senior Whitehall official, said the new role has been created in response to concerns within the Civil Service about the treatment of spads by Number 10.

A Cabinet Office spokesman insisted it was a "routine" appointment.

They said: "In December 2018 the then government announced it would be reviewing how special advisers' terms could be made clearer and more consistent.

"This is a routine appointment to the existing team to support this ongoing work and does not constitute a change to the way special advisers are managed."

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