Every week, a group of influential individuals gather in an office near Downing Street. These individuals consist of the heads or deputies of every Whitehall department, and sometimes there can be up to 38 of them in attendance. They meet in a room with wood-panelled walls, a conference table, and comfortable sofas, and this gathering is known as the ‘Wednesday Morning Colleagues’ meeting. The person who presides over this meeting is Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary and the highest-ranking civil servant in the country. Despite being one of the youngest and least experienced individuals in the room, Case is aware of his junior status compared to the permanent secretaries who take their orders from him. This fact bothers him greatly, especially when there are up to 12 knights and dames of the realm present at these meetings, further highlighting his sense of insecurity.
Recently, Case’s lack of a knighthood and his integrity have come under scrutiny due to his controversial contributions to the Covid Inquiry.The text messages and WhatsApps sent by Dominic Cummings during the pandemic have been shared, even though he has not appeared in person at the London hearings. In one message, he criticizes the people in Boris Johnson’s No 10 operation, calling them “poisonous” and “mad,” and stating that they are ill-equipped to run a country. In another message to his predecessor Lord Sedwill, he describes the situation as “madness” and compares it to taming wild animals. They also exchange derogatory comments about former Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Case, who is currently on leave for medical reasons, has not confirmed these observations.
Shortly after accepting the job, Case informed the Prime Minister that senior officials did not want to work in Downing Street due to its toxic reputation. In a conversation with Lord Sedwill, he expresses his struggle to last six months in the position because of the madness and self-defeating behavior of the people around him. Lord Sedwill warns him to be cautious and tells him that it is difficult to ask people to support a cause if they are being undermined.
Tory figures are privately pleased with these revelations. Case often reminds people that he has a title, as he holds a postgraduate degree under constitutionalist and historian Lord (Peter) Hennessy.
In one exchange, Case expresses despair about Boris Johnson’s WhatsApps, predicting that they will become part of a future inquiry. However, it appears that he did not take his own advice.Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds were seen watching the 2019 Election results together. In a series of messages, a senior civil servant described the government as a ‘terrible, tragic joke’. Critics argue that these remarks not only displayed immaturity but also suggested complicity in the chaos at No 10. The civil servant failed to follow the basic rule of not putting anything in writing that could be used against him in the future. He also criticized No 10’s handling of the pandemic and implied that Carrie was the one truly in charge. The civil servant’s haughty and imperious attitude is evident in these remarks.Simon Case, a competitive rower at Cambridge University and father-of-three, is a member of the Garrick Club. He enjoys sitting at the famous long table, which guarantees that he will be noticed by other diners. In a picture, Boris Johnson is seen accompanied by Simon Case in 2020.
Despite being described as “a very un-civil servant” by one of Mr. Johnson’s Cabinet members, Case holds the position of Cabinet Secretary and has access to confidential and secret information. One would expect him to exercise the highest level of discretion, especially when it comes to written communication.
During the lockdown, opponents frequently criticized the idea that the Prime Minister’s wife was running Downing Street, dismissing it as a misogynistic caricature. However, it is astonishing to see this idea being repeated by the Cabinet Secretary and the No 10 director of communications.
Case did not hold back in expressing his criticism of Boris Johnson. In a WhatsApp thread during the height of the pandemic, he wrote, “He cannot lead, and we cannot support him in leading with this approach.” He further stated that government is not actually that difficult, but Boris Johnson is making it impossible.
In his messages to Cummings, Case expressed frustration with Boris Johnson’s constant changes in strategic direction and stated that he was at the end of his tether. This frustration had already been revealed earlier this year when a newspaper published a series of WhatsApp messages involving Matt Hancock.
In one conversation from October 2020, Case referred to Mr. Johnson as a “nationally distrusted figure” and warned that the public were unlikely to trust him.The article discusses the controversies surrounding Simon Case, the former head of the UK Civil Service. It highlights various instances where Case faced criticism for his actions and decisions.
One incident mentioned is Case mocking holidaymakers who were forced to go into quarantine. He sarcastically asked the Health Secretary about the number of people locked up in hotels, showing contempt for the situation.
Case’s supporters argue that these incidents occurred while he was managing the national response to a major crisis. However, his detractors believe that this does not excuse the mistakes made under his leadership.
Another controversy involves Case attending a birthday event for Prime Minister Boris Johnson during lockdown restrictions. Both Johnson and then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak were fined for attending, but Case was not. This decision puzzled many colleagues, and Case’s refusal to resign further fueled criticism.
Due to his involvement in the event, Case had to recuse himself from chairing the subsequent inquiry into Partygate, adding to the scrutiny he faced.
The article also mentions the criticism Case received regarding the Downing Street flat renovations. He was accused of trying to cover up the issues arising from the refurbishment.
During a hearing before the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Case was reprimanded for being unprepared. He was repeatedly asked about the payment for the original refurbishment, but he evaded the question, stating that he was conducting a review. The committee’s chairman expressed disappointment in Case’s lack of answers.
In more recent times, Case faced questions about his judgment regarding his failure to warn Prime Minister Sunak about an investigation into former Chancellor Zahawi’s tax affairs. Zahawi reached a settlement with the tax authority while he was in office, but he failed to disclose the probe, leading to his dismissal.
Overall, the article portrays Simon Case as a figure who faced criticism for his actions and decisions during his tenure as head of the UK Civil Service.The former pupil at fee-paying Bristol Grammar School started his Whitehall career as a junior in the Justice Department in 2006. Pictured: Case, left, with Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Therese Coffey. Case was also at the center of the controversy that led to the resignation this year of banker Richard Sharp as chairman of the BBC over his role in a six-figure loan guarantee to Mr. Johnson. While he was applying to be BBC chairman, Sharp put a business acquaintance, Sam Blyth — who happened to be a distant cousin of Boris Johnson — in touch with the then Prime Minister, with a view to guaranteeing the loan. But a memo sent by Case to Mr. Johnson on December 22, 2020, which was later leaked, said: ‘Given the imminent announcement of Richard Sharp as the new BBC chair, it is important you no longer ask his advice about your personal financial matters.’ Sharp resigned in April after being found to have breached public appointment rules for failing to declare a connection to the secret £800,000 loan. But for many Whitehall colleagues, Case’s most serious misdemeanour was a failure to intervene over the sacking last September of Tom Scholar, the top Treasury civil servant. He was fired without warning by new PM Liz Truss and her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in their very first week in Downing Street. Case was criticized by senior figures for his apparent acquiescence in the affair. Sir David Normington, former head of the Home Office, accused him of ‘failing to stand up for the values of the Civil Service’. Scholar’s dismissal left Case horribly exposed, according to ministers. For, despite a CV bulging with high-powered jobs including director of strategy at GCHQ, heading the quango working on Britain’s EU departure, and lead civil servant on the Irish border issue post-Brexit, Case remains the least experienced civil service chief in modern times, having never run a Whitehall department. And, intriguingly, he never remained long in any previous post. His appointment to the top position at No 10, when he was just 41, was not greeted with high hopes. Certainly, his time at the royal household working for William and Kate, then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, where he was known as the ‘master of circumvention’, should have been ample preparation for the skulduggery of Downing Street. His two years at Kensington Palace encompassed the fallout from Megxit, and he was front and center in the uproar that followed the incendiary claims that the Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry had bullied staff.Simon Case, a former pupil at fee-paying Bristol Grammar School, began his career in the Justice Department in 2006. Recently, it was revealed that Case had received an email detailing allegations of bullying towards two junior staff members and the loss of confidence in a third. An aide referred to Harry and Meghan as “outrageous bullies” in response to the allegations. Case reportedly suggested that the matter should be handled by the Palace’s internal human resources department, which some insiders saw as an attempt to avoid addressing the issue directly.
Harry has not forgotten his encounters with Case. In his memoir, he refers to three royal advisers who he believes undermined him and contributed to his and Meghan’s departure from Britain. These advisers are referred to as “the Bee,” “the Wasp,” and “the Fly.” Case was identified as “the Fly,” whom Harry described as someone who thrived on the negative aspects of government and media. Case’s rapid rise in the civil service was aided by his predecessor, Sir Jeremy Heywood, who was known as “Sir Cover Up.” Case, like Heywood, has a knack for avoiding scandal and has become known as “The Teflon Cabinet Secretary.” He is now serving his third Prime Minister and is seen more as a courtier than a typical faceless bureaucrat.
Case, a father of three and a former competitive rower at Cambridge University, enjoys being a member of the Garrick Club. He often sits at the famous long table, ensuring that he is noticed by other diners. However, rumors suggest that his influence has waned, even before the recent WhatsApp controversy. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has expanded his circle of advisers, particularly from the Treasury, which has marginalized Case. While a knighthood may be in his future, Case may want to reflect on a framed aphorism that one of his predecessors displayed on his desk at Kensington Palace, which read: “Say it with roses, say it with mink, but never, ever, say it in ink.” This advice could have served Case well.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org