Simon Case retains post as UK’s top civil servant after Prime Minister changes his mind | Civil service
Simon Case is expected to retain his position as Cabinet Secretary under Liz Truss after being previously ousted.
Case, a former private secretary to Prince William, is said to have impressed the British prime minister during talks over forming a government and the energy support package.
It was thought she was likely to replace him with James Bowler, the permanent secretary of the Department for International Trade, but government sources confirmed she had changed her mind.
Case, the government’s top civil servant, was brought in by Boris Johnson to help straighten out his ailing government, but became part of Partygate history when it emerged a party had been held in his office private.
He was stripped of responsibility for investigating the gatherings during the lockdown, which was given to Sue Gray. Many officials believed he would quit for overseeing the civil service during the scandal, in which some officials were fined for breaking lockdown laws.
Case’s revived fortunes are markedly different from those of Tom Scholar, who was removed as Permanent Secretary of the Treasury as one of the first acts of the Truss administration.
Scholar’s ousting caused outrage in Whitehall, as he is widely seen to have been a capable and consistent hand at the Treasury.
However, Truss has repeatedly criticized “Treasury thinking” during her leadership campaign and is known for wanting a more tax-focused approach to spur growth.
Dave Penman, the head of the union for senior officials at the FDA, said the new government’s decision was a “sign of weakness” because Scholar was one of those “really valued smart, capable people that everyone looked up to.” and served for countless Chancellors” and strong enough to challenge politicians with evidence. “It’s a demonstration that they don’t want a challenge. He’s one of the most experienced civil servants of his generation. Why wouldn’t you want him at the heart of the government?
Other senior Whitehall sources pointed out that Case’s first big challenge as head of the civil service under Truss was how he reacted to his decision to sack Scholar – and from his perspective he succeeded this is.
Jill Rutter, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government and a former civil servant, said Case “should have refused to accept Scholar’s dismissal.”
“It’s a sign of his weakness that – if he tried to warn against it – they went ahead anyway. He had already lost a lot of respect in the civil service because of his management of Partygate. Now?” she says.