We brought you fresh details this morning of Nick Raynsford’s claims that a former government figure believed he was the victim of black arts.
Mr Raynsford, Labour MP for Greenwich & Woolwich, today demanded a meeting with David Cameron to discuss allegations of “phone hacking, covert surveillance and hostile media briefing” against the unnamed former government official last year.
My understanding is that the official is Tim Byles, former chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, who was last summer blamed by the education department after some schools were assured building projects were safe, only to find that they had been scrapped.
The Cabinet Office earlier today denied Mr Raynsford’s suggestion that Mr Byles had raised concerns about hacking during a meeting with Sir Gus O’Donnell, cabinet secretary.
Mr Raynsford had claimed Special Branch, called in to investigate, put a tracer on Mr Byles’s phone – after which point the hacking stopped.
Sir Gus has now published a letter he sent to Raynsford this evening which appears to demolish his claims. The cabinet secretary says that he asked Sir David Bell, permanent secretary at the education department, to look into the claims. “The individual” did indeed complain about media harrassment, he confirms.
The security officer at the department looked into the accusations. He also asked the police and the relevant phone company to examine “possible phone tampering”. But no evidence of wrongdoing was found. (In a separate letter to Sir Gus, Sir David writes that neither the police nor the telecoms company could find any evidence of ‘malpractice’.)
Sir Gus concludes that he understands why Raynsford raised the issue in the House of Commons and accepts that it was a “genuine misunderstanding”.
But it seems fair to conclude that the letter closes down this particular avenue.