Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Today I settle all family business

Last weekend, The Sunday Telegraph reported:

Tony Blair has issued a furious dressing-down to Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, for going soft in the fight against crime, a secret Downing Street memo has revealed.

The memo, written two weeks ago, shows that the Prime Minister has taken personal charge of the drive to stamp out antisocial behaviour and has ordered urgent action to prevent a "sense of fatalism" setting in.

In a humiliating snub to Mr Clarke, Mr Blair has ordered Louise Casey, the national director of the Government's antisocial behaviour unit and a hardline Home Office figure, to report directly to him.

The row, which has sent relations between the Prime Minister and his Home Secretary plunging, was played out at a meeting between them at Downing Street on June 20, minutes of which have been seen by The Sunday Telegraph.

On the same day, Martin Bright wrote in The Observer:

Home Secretary Charles Clarke has mounted a campaign to silence 'celebrity' civil servants such as the head of the anti-social behaviour unit Louise Casey. Clarke, whose father was a Whitehall mandarin, is known to believe that ministers, not civil servants, should be the mouthpiece for government policy.

Casey is a controversial figure who recently attacked 'liberals' for criticising the government's anti-social behaviour orders.

Certainly someone has lost no time in slipping the stiletto between Ms Casey's ribs by leaking a tape of comments she made at a conference attended by senior civil servants, chief constables and criminal justice practitioners last month. I wonder who it could be. It is really a little more sinister than it appeared to me in my first reaction.

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