January 28, 2023

Current and former members of the government’s funding committees have said they were under pressure from Downing Street to reward Tory donors, and that if they failed to comply with requests they were told their services were no longer needed, a spokesman said. investigation by Channel 4 News revealed.

Speaking of a nominee, Sir Vernon Ellis, chair of the arts and media honors committee between 2012 and 2015, told the programme: “I felt if he got the honor it would discredit the honor a bit because say how can he ever deserve this honor when there was so much noise and noise in this other field and some of it was at his door, right or wrong.

He added that the person “was also a Tory donor.”

Ellis also described an exchange with the then cabinet secretary, the late Jeremy Heywood, after he reportedly resisted pressure to honor a No. 10-backed candidate.

“He said, ‘You know, if you continue your position, things may happen that you don’t like, there may be consequences.’

“And I said, ‘Really, what consequences?’ He didn’t say, except, ‘Sometimes you just have to be pragmatic.’”

When Ellis’ three-year term as chairman expired, he was told he would not be offered a second term.

The honors list for the new year will be announced next week. Earlier this month, Dame Louise Casey, chair of the community and volunteer committee that bestows the most awards, told the Cabinet Office in an email to Channel 4 News that she was concerned about the “politicization” of the system.

“It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with the politicization of the awards and especially the last #10 incumbents,” she wrote.

“I know it’s hard to balance a demanding No. 10 with a lot of other pressures, but I also owe it to myself to speak up when I think something isn’t right.”

Waheed Saleem, who was appointed to the community and volunteer services committee in 2019, told the program he was subjected to “subtle pressure” to approve nominations submitted by Downing Street, which he did not deserve as an independent member .

Saleem, a former police and crime commissioner, said: “So there is someone from number 10, who is on the committee, who clearly reports to number 10.

“And these nominations, when they were rejected [by] the committee, were continuously returned to committee until the correct answer came.

And so there were these subtle hints about these nominations, [that] because of their ties to number 10, [they] must pass for the high honors.

“We actually did a pushback. But it was very interesting how those names were pushed forward continuously until the correct answer was given.

“And that is the politicization and the political influence that has taken place in the committee. And that is wrong.”

Saleem said he was told a few months later that his term on the committee was not being renewed.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: “The awards selection process is based on merit and approved by committees made up of independent members.

“Political awards are a small number compared to the total number of honors awarded.

“Members are appointed for a three-year term and terms are renewable by mutual consent.”

Heywood’s widow, Lady Suzanne Heywood, told the program that the allegations against her husband were “baseless”.

She said, “My late husband devoted his life to public service and worked with governments of all political affiliations.”

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