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Dorries faces questions over claims of ‘forceful' messages to civil servants

Nadine Dorries has written a book titled The Plot: The Political Assassination Of Boris Johnson (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Dominic McGrath and Nina Lloyd, PA Political Staff

Nadine Dorries was referred to the Tory chief whip by the UK’s most senior civil servant over claims she sent “forceful” messages to senior civil servants after failing to receive a peerage in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list.

Appearing at the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case said he had “flagged” communications from the Johnson loyalist to senior officials to both the Commons Speaker and the chief whip.

Tory MP and committee chairman William Wragg asked Mr Case if he was aware of “any rather forceful communications” sent by Ms Dorries “to senior civil servants” about potentially using “the platform of the Commons and indeed her own television programme to get to the bottom of why she hadn’t been given a peerage?”

Mr Case said: “Yes, was aware of those communications and have flagged them to both the chief whip and Speaker of the House.”

Simon Case, Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service, Cabinet Office, answering questions in front of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee at the House of Commons, London, on the subject of the work of the Cabinet Office
Simon Case, Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service, Cabinet Office, answering questions in front of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee at the House of Commons (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

Asked if he had taken legal advice on whether the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 could “come into play”, the top civil servant said he was “seeking further advice on that question. So taken initial advice, but asked for more”.

The Liberal Democrats called on the Prime Minister to withdraw the Tory whip while the claims are investigated.

Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “These allegations are staggering and it’s crucial a swift investigation takes place into whether Nadine Dorries may have broken the law.

“Not only is Dorries failing to represent the people of Mid Bedfordshire, but now it emerges she has allegedly sent threatening messages to civil servants.

“The least Rishi Sunak can do is suspend her by withdrawing the Conservative whip while any investigation takes place.”

It comes as it was confirmed that the MP, who had announced her intention to stand down but remains in the Commons, has written a book titled The Plot: The Political Assassination Of Boris Johnson.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries during a visit to a stadium in Birmingham in 2022
Then-prime minister Boris Johnson and then-culture secretary Nadine Dorries during a visit to a stadium in Birmingham in 2022 (Oli Scarff/PA)

It will be published days before the Tory Party conference in September.

The former prime minister’s staunch ally claims to have uncovered a “fault line” within the Conservative Party through conversations with Cabinet ministers, civil servants and party officials which form the basis of her account.

The book, for which Ms Dorries received £20,500 as a partial advance from HarperCollins, is billed as the story of “treachery and deceit at the heart of the Westminster machine”.

It is set to hit the stands on September 28 – just three days before Conservatives convene for the annual party conference on October 1.

The former culture secretary said: “I had wanted to discover the forces behind the downfall of the prime minister. Instead, I found a fault line within the Conservative Party stretching back decades, and a history of deception fuelled by the darkest political arts.

“If you thought that power flowed from the people into Parliament, be prepared to think again.”

Ms Dorries was among eight Conservative parliamentarians recently rebuked for her conduct in relation to the Privileges Committee investigation of Mr Johnson.

The cross-party panel, which ultimately found Mr Johnson lied to MPs with his repeated denials of pandemic-era parties in Downing Street, accused his loyalists of a co-ordinated attempt to undermine its work.

Covid-19 pandemic inquiry
HarperCollins said The Plot aims to trace Boris Johnson’s rise to power and prime ministerial downfall (Andrew Boyers/PA)

The Privileges Committee ultimately triggered Mr Johnson’s resignation from Parliament in protest at its recommendation that he should face a lengthy suspension for misleading the Commons.

His supporters attacked the Labour-led but Tory-majority panel as a “witch hunt” and “kangaroo court” – with the former prime minister found to be complicit in the campaign.

Ms Dorries, perhaps Mr Johnson’s staunchest ally, has announced her intention to quit as an MP but is yet to do so formally as she seeks answers over the peerage she never received in his resignation honours list.

HarperCollins said The Plot aims to trace Mr Johnson’s rise to power with a landslide victory in the 2019 election and his prime ministerial downfall three years later.

The former prime minister was ultimately forced out of No 10 after losing the confidence of his party following a series of political crises.

Adam Humphrey, HarperNonFiction publisher, said: “Nadine’s unique vantage point, unparalleled access to sources, and innate storytelling ability will provide readers of The Plot with a rare opportunity to walk the corridors of power and understand the behind-the-scenes machinations of Westminster.

“The Plot is an urgent look at how our government really operates, and I look forward to it adding to the current political discourse.”