Leak Inquiry Launched Over Briefings Against Penny Mordaunt

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Penny Mordaunt (Photo: Handout via Getty Images)
Penny Mordaunt (Photo: Handout via Getty Images)

Penny Mordaunt (Photo: Handout via Getty Images)

The head of the civil service has launched an inquiry into leaks allegedly designed to damage Penny Mordaunt’s leadership campaign.

Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, launched the probe after papers drawn up by civil servants made their way into a Sunday Times story.

The paper claimed the documents suggest she backed watering down the legal process for transitioning when she was equalities minister.

Her team fiercely rebutted the story, saying the contest was being distracted by side issues. Mordaunt’s campaign has been the subject of a number of briefings that she has described as “toxic”.

Case has promised the investigation will be completed “as quickly as possible” given the “importance” of the subject.

David Davis, who is supporting Mordaunt’s run to be prime minister, wrote to the government equalities office demanding to know how the policy paper was released.

In a letter to Tory MP Davis, Case said: “Thank you for your letter of 17 July, raising your concerns about the apparent leaking of information designed to influence the Conservative leadership election.

“I have been very clear in writing with the civil service that it is paramount that public resources are not used to support leadership campaigns during the Conservative Party leadership election.

“Further to that, unauthorised disclosure of government information to the media is clearly inappropriate.

“In light of these facts and the concerns you raise, I can confirm that I have launched a leak investigation into this matter.

“The investigation will be completed as quickly as possible given the importance of the subject.”

Mordaunt herself has accused her Conservative leadership rivals of mounting a smear campaign against her and condemned “toxic” briefings from rival camps.

In response to the original story, Baroness Williams of Trafford, the equalities minister from 2018 to 2020, refuted the allegations, saying: “I feel compelled to issue a statement to challenge the factually incorrect representations put forward by leadership candidates in relation to Penny Mordaunt MP’s position and tenure at the equalities office.

“The events relayed at the hustings and repeated again to the media today in relation to the self-ID debate are completely incorrect.

“As minister for equalities in the department under both Penny Mordaunt and Amber Rudd I saw first hand that the position stated was absolutely not Penny Mordaunt’s and completely refute the allegations made by other candidates about the self ID debate.

“Having sat in the equalities office for many years, I am shocked to see such incorrect reporting and briefings by our colleagues and would question the motives of those seeking to do so.”

Tory MPs voted on the PM’s successor on Wednesday afternoon, with the result announced by Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, at 4pm.

The final two candidates will then be put to party members to make the final decision, with the winner announced on September 5.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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