Simon Case was determined not to make news at his select committee appearance today. But his sheer desire not to make news told a story in itself as the Commons Public Administration committee got increasingly frustrated with him.
Case dodged a string of questions on the lockdown leak inquiry and then declared, ‘What I can say I have already said to the committee.’ Case did, though, reveal a couple of things. First, it will be weeks not months before the inquiry concludes and the reason he couldn’t say much on it was that while the leak was not criminal, the investigation is using techniques he can’t talk about it in public. Second, he said that after this length of time he thought it was ‘probable’ that the culprit, or culprits, would not be identified. This means that the row over who is responsible will rumble on.
On the Downing Street flat, Case – to the committee’s frustration – didn’t have many answers beyond saying he had been asked to conduct a review. Though, his talk of how the relevant declarations would be made in time implied that there is something to be declared. In other words, someone other than Boris Johnson may have paid the initial bill. If this is the case, it would be sensible for Number 10 and CCHQ to get this information out sooner rather than later. This story isn’t going away while this question is not answered.
On Greensill, the committee was, remarkably, told that the contract on which Lex Greensill was working for the Cabinet Office hadn’t yet been located. Interestingly, Case said that Jeremy Heywood and John Manzoni had approved Bill Crothers working for Greensill while still in the civil service. I suspect there will be more questions about this.