Friday, 19 September 2008

The 'Welsh' Civil Service Code v Christopher Glamorganshire's Blog

Matt Wardman has been busy on my behalf digging up a version of the 'Welsh' Civil Service Code. We've both been wondering whether any of you readers of Welsh blogs remember the Christopher Glamorganshire blog. It was also known as 'Who Would be a Leader in a Wicked, Wicked World', or simply as 'Glamorganshire' according to some Welsh blogrolls.

If you have long memories (we are talking about over a year ago), how do you think it fares with the 'Welsh Code'? Did his blog break the rules? Was it near the mark? Is the Welsh Assembly Government's reaction an attempt to suppress blogging among its staff by nipping it in the bud?

In short, according to the BBC's source, was the blog "contrary to the civil service code" and "has the potential to cause an embarrassment to the Welsh Assembly Government", therefore breaking the code?

Over to you in the comments section.

The Welsh Civil Service Code

Civil Service Values
1. The Civil Service is an integral and key part of the government of the United Kingdom(1). It supports the Government of the day in developing and implementing its policies, and in delivering public services. Civil servants are accountable to Ministers(2). They are in turn accountable to the National Assembly for Wales(3).

2. As a civil servant, you are appointed on merit on the basis of fair and open competition and are expected to carry out your role with dedication and a commitment to the Civil Service and its core values: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. In this Code:

* ‘integrity’ is putting the obligations of public service above your own personal interests;
* ‘honesty’ is being truthful and open;
* ‘objectivity’ is basing your advice and decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence; and
* ‘impartiality’ is acting solely according to the merits of the case and serving equally well Governments of different political persuasions.'

3. These core values support good government and ensure the achievement of the highest possible standards in all that the Civil Service does. This in turn helps the Civil Service to gain and retain the respect of Ministers, the National Assembly for Wales, the public and its customers.

4. This Code(4) sets out the standards of behaviour expected of you and all other civil servants. These are based on the core values.

Standards of behaviour

Integrity
5. You must: fulfil your duties and obligations responsibly; always act in a way that is professional(5) and that deserves and retains the confidence of all those with whom you have dealings; make sure public money and other resources are used properly and efficiently; deal with the public and their affairs fairly, efficiently, promptly, effectively and sensitively, to the best of your ability; handle information as openly as possible within the legal framework; and comply with the law and uphold the administration of justice.

6. You must not: misuse your official position, for example by using information acquired in the course of your official duties to further your private interests or those of others; accept gifts or hospitality or receive other benefits from anyone which might reasonably be seen to compromise your personal judgement or integrity; or disclose official information without authority. This duty continues to apply after you leave the Civil Service.

Honesty
7. You must: set out the facts and relevant issues truthfully, and correct any errors as soon as possible; and use resources only for the authorised public purposes for which they are provided.

8. You must not: deceive or knowingly mislead Ministers, the National Assembly for Wales or others; or be influenced by improper pressures from others or the prospect of personal gain.

Objectivity
9. You must: provide information and advice, including advice to Ministers, on the basis of the evidence, and accurately present the options and facts; take decisions on the merits of the case; and take due account of expert and professional advice.

10. You must not: ignore inconvenient facts or relevant considerations when providing advice or making decisions; or frustrate the implementation of policies once decisions are taken by declining to take, or abstaining from, action which flows from those decisions.

Impartiality
11. You must: carry out your responsibilities in a way that is fair, just and equitable and reflects the Civil Service commitment to equality and diversity.

12. You must not: act in a way that unjustifiably favours or discriminates against particular individuals or interests.

Political Impartiality
13. You must: serve the Government, whatever its political persuasion, to the best of your ability in a way which maintains political impartiality and is in line with the requirements of this Code, no matter what your own political beliefs are; act in a way which deserves and retains the confidence of Ministers, while at the same time ensuring that you will be able to establish the same relationship with those whom you may be required to serve in some future Government; and comply with any restrictions that have been laid down on your political activities.

14. You must not: act in a way that is determined by party political considerations, or use official resources for party political purposes; or allow your personal political views to determine any advice you give or your actions.

Rights and responsibilities
15. The Welsh Assembly Government has a duty to make you aware of this Code and its values. If you believe that you are being required to act in a way which conflicts with this Code, the Welsh Assembly Government will consider your concern, and make sure that you are not penalised for raising it.

16. If you have a concern, you should start by talking to your line manager or someone else in your line management chain. If for any reason you would find this difficult, you should raise the matter with the Welsh Assembly Government’s nominated officers who have been appointed to advise staff on the Code.

17 If you become aware of actions by others which you believe conflict with this Code you should report this to your line manager or someone else in your line management chain; alternatively you may wish to seek advice from your nominated officers. You should report evidence of criminal or unlawful activity to the police or other appropriate authorities.

18. If you have raised a matter covered in paragraphs 15 to 17, in accordance with the relevant procedures(6), and do not receive what you consider to be a reasonable response, you may report the matter to the Civil Service Commissioners7. The Commissioners will also consider taking a complaint direct. Their address is: 3rd Floor, 35 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BQ. Tel: 020 7276 2613 email: ocsc@civilservicecommissioners.gov.uk If the matter cannot be resolved using the procedures set out above, and you feel you cannot carry out the instructions you have been given, you will have to resign from the Civil Service.

19. This Code is part of the contractual relationship between you and your employer. It sets out the high standards of behaviour expected of you which follow from your position in public and national life as a civil servant. You can take pride in living up to these values. June 2007


Notes
1. This Code applies to all Home civil servants who are members of staff of the Welsh Assembly Government. Other Home civil servants have their own versions of the Code. Similar Codes apply to the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the Diplomatic Service.

2. In this version of the Code, "Ministers" means the First Minister for Wales, the Welsh Ministers, Deputy Welsh Ministers and the Counsel General to the Welsh Assembly Government. The Counsel General to the Welsh Assembly Government may not be an Assembly Member but he/she may participate in Assembly proceedings.

3. Constitutionally, civil servants are servants of the Crown. The Crown’s executive powers are exercised by the UK Government on nondevolved matters and by the First Minister for Wales, the Welsh Ministers, Deputy Welsh Ministers, or the Counsel General to the Welsh Assembly Government on devolved matters in relation to Wales.

4. The respective responsibilities placed on the First Minister for Wales, the Welsh Ministers, Deputy Welsh Ministers and the Counsel General to the Welsh Assembly Government and special advisers in relation to the Civil Service are set out in their Codes of Conduct: www.wales.gov.uk/civilservicecode

5. This includes taking account of ethical standards governing particular professions.

6. The whistleblowing legislation (the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998) may also apply in some circumstances. The Directory of Civil Service Guidance gives more information: www.wales.gov.uk/civilservicecode

7. The Civil Service Commissioners’ Appeals leaflet gives more information: www.civilservicecommissioners.gov.uk. This Code does not cover HR management issues.

N.B.

  • The Welsh Assembly Government had no policy on blogging at the time and is now in the process of getting one published.

46 comments:

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 12:06  

He never worked down the bay or leaked any information. The emails were just stabbing in the dark.

Paul 19 September 2008 at 12:15  

Not sure whether the union supported the case from the very beginning. If they did, and pulled out after a year, that's irresponsible in my book. Sounds like they led him up the garden path only to slam the door in his face at the end.

Sandy Evans 19 September 2008 at 12:18  

The blog wasn't party political from what I remember of it. Think this was also confirmed by the former AM Glyn Davies.

No-one ever accused him of leaking any information. I cannot remember anything controversial. To me it was running commentary with an amusing sideline.

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 12:21  

The solicitors statement smacks of bullying tactics. If what was printed by Betsan is true then the Assembly Government should be ashamed of themselves.

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 12:29  

If only Betsan reported the name of the firm of solicitors. Perhaps then we could discover if it was the same firm that was reviewing Welsh blogs.

The Wardman Wire reported it was Morgan Cole in Cardiff

Jim 19 September 2008 at 12:33  

Under the impression that a preliminary hearing doesn't hear all the evidence, just a snap shot as to whether it should go further.

Looks like it is going further from what Betsan suggests.

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 12:44  

I've joined his former unit and was told that Christopher didn't do it in work's time. No one in the team knew anything about it until he left suddenly.

One part of my introduction to the unit was funny and highlights the morale here. Apparently, they let him finish his work for the day, and his arranging of the office move before he was suspended and sent home.

Susan Williams 19 September 2008 at 13:03  

Interesting comment on Valleys Mam's blog:

From my little experience as an American lawyer. If the other side plays hardball with the admitted intent to shut down my client, then three things can happen: (1) the case gets settled with money to my client; (2) the client folds up; or (3) the client returns the favour with or without interest.

Cardiff Pete 19 September 2008 at 13:10  

I'm finding it difficult getting my head around the possibility of someone being sacked for "having the potential to cause an embarrassment to the Welsh Assembly Government". The key word here is POTENTIAL.

In addition, from what I've read, nothig he did is "contrary to the civil service code".

It all sounds like the Welsh Assembly Government has thrown the weight of a legal team behind this and tied it all up in legal jargon

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 13:44  

I haven't worked in HR for that long but have heard that he was regarded as a likeable man before all this happened. HR have since regarded him as a thorn in their side since he won't drop his case, particularly after the civil service hearing.

The freedom of information requests and questions from the media have annoyed them the most. They even tried to blame the union for the leaks to the media. This has proved to be awkward for the union reps as they come under HR when it comes down to departmental responsibility.

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 13:45  

I've heard that he worked in a sensitive area dealing with information if that helps. Did he actually reveal anything?

Jo 19 September 2008 at 13:55  

Politicians and the media are saying that he didn't reveal anything. If he did, I imagine the government press officer would've made the most of it in their statement.

Jonesthegirl 19 September 2008 at 14:11  

Miss W, your question "Is the Welsh Assembly Government's reaction an attempt to suppress blogging among its staff by nipping it in the bud?" sums the government's reaction completely.

They've since discovered through rumour that there are others blogging in Cathays Park/Bay.

Ministers have asked senior management to do something about it and they are in a panic. If they handle this case badly it won't do them any favours. Ministers are always annoyed by the amount of bad press the Assembly gets.

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 14:20  

"Not sure whether the union supported the case from the very beginning. If they did, and pulled out after a year, that's irresponsible in my book. Sounds like they led him up the garden path only to slam the door in his face at the end."

Sounds like the union has let him down. You cannot back someone for that length of time and then pull out. What was the union looking for - a quick fix?

Perhaps they can only handle management talks concerning staff carpark charging, and banning alcohol from the building!!!

guest of the senedd 19 September 2008 at 14:34  

As an avid reader of Welsh blogs I saw Glamorganshire's blog as being light hearted and a refreshing break from the serious point scoring political blogs.

Glyn Davies sums it up well in the original media article as providing "neutral running commentary".

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics-news/2008/07/09/sacked-blogger-s-taking-case-to-tribunal-91466-21308104/

union through and through 19 September 2008 at 14:40  

The original outing was in the Western Mail dated 9 July 2008.

Is it a coincidence that the union pulled out from assisting him not long after this date?

Betsan Powys obviously has a contact in the union or human resources if she's heard that there's an internal meeting next week. She may as well spill the beans rather than carry on with the drip drip effect.

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 15:44  

As regards being stabbed in the back by the unions, does one expect anything else - When I stood for County Council in 2004, I was threated with the sack, when to the Union (AMICUS) about it the union rep. agreed that I should be sacked. Don't join a poxy union.

Matt Wardman 19 September 2008 at 16:26  

Hmmm. Sounds as if we are back to "time for a culture change at the WAG".

tired of waiting 19 September 2008 at 17:12  

Chris's blog was excellent and non partizan, so what is so explosive in Cathays or the Bay that we the public couldn't know?

Even if Chris Glamorgan did nothing wrong with his blog, Labour and the Civil Service always gets it way with everything in Wales, Betsan Powys like most welsh jouurnos is doing WAG's dirty work for it as usual sadly for fear of not being allowed future access.

Valleys Mam 19 September 2008 at 19:40  

this was his profile and his blog was clever and humourous - great graphics, nothing leaked just sort of a Welsh Yes Minister
Christopher Glamorgan
Gender: Male
Occupation: Closet Aristocrat
Location: Cardiff : Wales : United Kingdom
About Me
Will today be a nine-to-five lunch break interrupted by an hour of work or will something substantial fall on my desk?

Your people want to make a statue in your honor. What will it be made out of and what victory will it commemorate?
...marble, as my skin is pasty and will commemorate victory overcoming 'death by boredom' in certain workplaces.

Interests
It's not all about Cardiff! Is Cardiff a City-State these days?

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 21:00  

WAG are trying to avoid a tribunal at all costs as they don't know what he'll say at tribunal. As a court, his opinion will be heard publicly and considering where he worked there may be some damaging information waiting to be heard.

Inside the court room is fine, outside he faces prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 21:01  

Anonymous 21:00

In that case they should offer him a few quid to drop it.

wag bod 19 September 2008 at 21:06  

Betsan must have a contact within the union, human resources, or some senior figure. You don't come across information relating to staff matters through the usual contacts.

Lou 19 September 2008 at 21:10  

Two things that we must keep in mind - it has not been established that he broke the rules, and it has not been established that he broke his contract.

Anonymous 19 September 2008 at 22:26  

Pippa is involved in her own censorship with this post. She is NOT permitting comments to be posted that contradict her paranoid mind.
She is deleting perfectly civil and polite views on this blog because she disagrees with them.
And she has the gall to point the finger at WAG?
Disgraceful!

Miss Wagstaff 20 September 2008 at 11:50  

Pippa only deletes comments that don't comply with her Terms & Conditions, or are pointless.

Miss Wagstaff 20 September 2008 at 11:53  

... or if they are made by one particular person that feels it it HIS job to defend the government or HIS particular master ;)

You see what I've done there ;)

Dale 20 September 2008 at 12:41  

"Pippa is involved in her own censorship with this post"

Sounds like the same idiot that posted a while back and has been hassling Valleys Mam.

Anonymous 20 September 2008 at 13:41  

Well said Pippa! There is definitely a conspicacy afoot here. One of monumental proportions - so large infact - its hard to comprehend just how far the tentacles of this conspiracy actually reach. It involves WAG, the Vatican, the White House, NASA, the producers of Power Rangers and Microsoft.

Anonymous 20 September 2008 at 14:50  

Conspiracy - no. Unfairness - yes.

The Assembly has a poor record when it comes to staffing matters. We only have to take a look at how they handled the Quango Merger; potential conficts of interest; placing personal staff into civil service positions; and not forgetting their attempt at covering up that allegation of sexual harrassment.

Makes you wonder what else is yet to surface.

Arty 20 September 2008 at 16:42  

Can't remember his blog!

The Code is too generic! You could probably sack someone for a variety of reasons and still get away with it as an employer.

Anonymous 20 September 2008 at 16:46  

I love MOF's closing statement on his post...

http://miserableoldfart.blogspot.com/2008/09/still-supporting-chris.html

"I would suggest that that meeting seriously considers an apology, a large bung and a shut up clause to draw a line under this issue, before the Assembly is given even worse coverage as a sh*t employer than it is getting now and it will continue to get, win or lose, if it carries on with Chris' tribunal!"

Anonymous 20 September 2008 at 16:49  

If only the BBC will tell us the source. My money is on WAG's legal team or WAG itself. After all, they were the first to get in there when the story broke in the Western Mail a couple of months ago.

Sir Jon's blogging scapegoat 20 September 2008 at 17:04  

I met Chris through working in a Business Unit. He was hard working, clever, and was always eager to help. The Assembly has lost a good worker and all because of an amusing blog that did no real harm, other than to himself in the long run.

No one knew he had a blog. The majority wouldn't care. I spoke to a mate who works in human resources the other day to see what all the fuss was about and the response was "He was just unlucky to have done it at that time".

I've been told that the former Permanent Secretary, Sir Jon Shortridge who was mentioned in name by the BBC, wanted all "IT abusers" punished. This was partly down to a leak from Cabinet Secretariat at the time, and the Perm couldn't tolerate such events happening on his shift.

other bloggers are commenting too 20 September 2008 at 17:16  

Other Welsh bloggers have run posts on this topic too.

Miserable Old Fart gives his views as a former trade union rep

http://miserableoldfart.blogspot.com/2008/09/still-supporting-chris.html

Valley Mam also remembers the blog

http://merchmerthyr.blogspot.com/2008/09/betsan-has-inside-on-this-one.html

David Thomas 20 September 2008 at 17:22  

I liked the blog. It wasn't harmful in any way, shape or form. WAG had no policy on blogging and according to the media he didn't reveal any secrets.

Terms of Contract has nothing to do with it.

Miss Wagstaff 20 September 2008 at 18:01  

Anonymous 22:26 on the 19th September 2008.

Just realised that your comments were on the previous post. This means that they weren't deleted by Admin. You twit :)

Anonymous 20 September 2008 at 19:48  

Pippa - fair do's to you. It was my error - you are right.
Thank you.

Anonymous 20 September 2008 at 23:12  

By Valleys Mam on Betsan's blog

I really like Christopher G's blog, there was never anything to cause embarresment in it.

It was witty and well written.
I think to be sacked is crazy, they should have promoted him and given him the job of promoting the Government, it would have appealed to a lot more people.

Why is WAG so frightened of bloggers?

Anonymous 21 September 2008 at 00:24  

Did you realise that your blog is the only one to be mentioned at a Cabinet meeting?

They're trying to work out who you are Miss W. Staff in the Ministerial offices are watched and those in HR and sensitive policy areas. They won't rest until they catch you out.

Don't make the same mistake as Christopher Glamorganshire.

deep throat 21 September 2008 at 11:18  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sanddef's ego 21 September 2008 at 13:55  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 21 September 2008 at 17:03  

CENSORSHIP AGAIN!!!!

And you have the audacity to criticise WAG!

comment deleted comment deleted comment deleted comment deleted comment deleted said said said 21 September 2008 at 17:05  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Miss Wagstaff 21 September 2008 at 21:28  

The comment was anonymous. The criticism wasn't of myself, but was pointing in the direction of another blogger. If you want to criticize him you can direct it at his blog.

Anonymous 21 September 2008 at 21:30  

Fair do's Pippa
Under your rules you are right!
Can't understand these people
Knowledge threatens them!

You keep exposing them.
Openness is essential.
Ulitimately the truth will out.

Protect our liberties Pippa
Information is power!
Politics must be open.
People deserve truth!
And we need answers!

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