Fraser Nelson

Balls in trouble

Balls in trouble
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Life is about to get worse for Ed Balls. Remember Ken Boston, the sacked head of the QCA exams quango who was sacked over the SATS exams fiasco? Well he is now released from the purdah of his contract, and we have been waiting for a while to hear his side of the story – namely that Balls and his deputy, Jim Knight misled both Parliament and the Sutherland Inquiry. He has written a letter laying out the porkie pies he claims that Balls and Knight served up, and I gather the BBC will run the story tomorrow. For example, he claims – staggeringly – that Knight concocted meetings that he was supposed to have attended. And Balls told Parliament that he, the loyal minister, had asked the QCA for assurances that the SATS exams were on track. Not so, says Boston, this was “fiction”. And one which he thinks was designed to blacken his name. As he says in the letter:

“This flawed evidence has been used to portray me as complacent, disengaged and constantly beleaguered by ministers with questions which I was unable to answer ... Although this is far from the truth, it was not corrected by ministers or officials at draft report stage. And it has been used by ministers to my serious disadvantage.”

He will say more tomorrow when he is is due before the Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee. Yes: tomorrow. 22 April. Day of the Budget. A very good day to bury bad news and a good day for Barry Sheerman, chair of the committee, to have the famously angry Dr Boston to sound off. So Balls will have a very bad news cycle tomorrow – for about three hours. But we will be following it here at Coffee House. If Balls misled parliament then you know the rules – he has to correct the record. Let’s see how it all plays out.

UPDATE: Team Balls gets in touch to say that they are making public new information. On 9 Feb, Jim Knight 'fessed up to having "inadvertently conflated two separate meetings," and wrote a letter to Lord Sutherland saying as much. But how much does that affect Dr Boston's wider complaints? We'll see when the Select Committee meets today.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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