Isabel Hardman

Labour writes to Cabinet Secretary about details of Patrick Rock’s arrest

Labour writes to Cabinet Secretary about details of Patrick Rock's arrest
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So it looks as though Labour is going to go for Number 10 over Patrick Rock's arrest. Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jon Ashworth has written to Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood with the following questions about the case:

Dear Sir Jeremy,

I am writing to you about the arrest last month of the Prime Minister's senior adviser, Patrick Rock, on allegations concerning child abuse images. On the substance of the allegations themselves, I recognise that Mr Rock has not been charged with any offence, and it is vitally important that the police investigation is able to take its course and that no potential future trial is prejudiced.

However, given that Mr Rock had a senior role at the heart of Government and was privy to the most sensitive information, and that he has had a very close working relationship with the Prime Minister over a number of years, the way in which the news of Mr Rock's resignation and arrest emerged raises a number of important questions for the Government which do not bear on the investigation itself.

I would therefore like to ask the following questions:

- When was No. 10 first made aware of allegations of Patrick Rock's involvement in a potential offence connected to child abuse imagery? When was the Prime Minister first made aware of these allegations? When were you first made aware of them and what advice did you give?

- How much time passed between No. 10 first becoming aware of the allegations and a) Mr Rock being spoken to about them; b) the police being alerted; c) Mr Rock's resignation?

- What contact have officials had with Mr Rock since his resignation?

- When were Mr Rock's colleagues in No. 10 informed that he had resigned, and why was the fact of his resignation not made public immediately? What were officials in No. 10 and in other departments with which he had contact told about the reasons for Mr Rock's absence from work?

- What was Mr Rock's level of security clearance?

There have also been reports of at least one serious allegation of sexual harassment against Mr Rock, which had not previously been made public, even though it has now been reported that one such allegation led to a female member of staff being moved from No. 10 to another government department while Mr Rock remained in his post. I would like to ask the following questions:

- In total how many sexual harassment allegations have been made against Mr Rock, on what dates were they made, and in each case how were they dealt with and what was the outcome?

- Was there a formal process for dealing with the sexual harassment allegations against Mr Rock, and what was the involvement of the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Ed Llewellyn, in that process? What other officials were involved?

- In your judgement, is it right for a political appointee to handle a sexual harassment complaint made by an official about another political appointee?

- When were you, as Cabinet Secretary, made aware of any sexual harassment allegations against Mr Rock, and what was your involvement in dealing with them?

- Was the Prime Minister made aware of any sexual harassment allegations against Mr Rock, and if so when?

In view of the public interest in these matters, I am releasing this letter to the media.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Ashworth MP

Written byIsabel Hardman

Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is author of Why We Get The Wrong Politicians.