In an exclusive in the Independent newspaper, a top source revealed how Sir Jeremy Heywood (the head of the civil service) personally intervened to stop Iain Duncan Smith’s smear campaign against Robert Devereux (Permanent Secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions) over the failures of universal credit.
Duncan Smith tried to shift blame away from himself by turning the media spotlight onto Devereux through a toxic campaign of political briefings, in which Duncan Smith blamed the civil service (and Devereux in particular) for failing to implement the unreasonable demands and deadlines Duncan Smith has placed on the service.
Devereux felt that he was being hounded out of office by Duncan Smith and his cohorts in an attempt to cover-up their own culpability, which prompted Sir Jeremy Heywood to take the unusual step of intervening.
Sir Jeremy made it clear to David Cameron that he did not believe that Devereux should be singled out for the failings of the government’s universal credit programme, and that Duncan Smith was largely responsible.
As a member of the civil service, Devereux was and is not in a position where he can publically defend himself against the allegations of Duncan Smith to any significant degree. While on the other hand, Duncan Smith has an arsenal of ‘PR’ resources available to him with which to launch his smear campaign to mask his own failings and shortcomings.
Duncan Smith’s reputation as a bully is well known within civil service circles, and his lying, manipulation, and tantrums have been exposed in the mainstream media on many occasions.
He lied about his education, his claims of his military service experience are at least highly misleading, and he has attempted to give the impression of being an ‘educated man’ when there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. This all points to Duncan Smith as being a highly manipulative, self-obsessed man of no substance who is prepared to engage in any tactic to shun responsibility.
It is not surprising that Duncan Smith has tried to put Devereux ‘in the frame’ for the failings of universal credit, when in reality it is Duncan Smith who should shoulder responsibility.
Sir Jeremy’s intervention is understood to have been behind a very unusual statement by Mr Duncan Smith, released earlier this month in which he stated he had “every confidence” with the team implementing universal credit adding “and that team includes Robert Devereux”.
The government source told The Independent: “There was a lot of anger at the very top of the civil service about the way Robert was being treated. He had fallen out with [Francis] Maude and Duncan Smith and they were basically trying to force him out by blaming all the failures of universal credit on him.
“But for God’s sake Duncan Smith was the minister in charge and it was his one big project. If he didn’t know things were going wrong then he clearly wasn’t doing his job properly either.”
The source said it had taken the intervention of Sir Jeremy to make the briefings stop.