A former Treasury aide marched out of Downing Street by armed police after being sacked by Dominic Cummings has settled her claim for unfair dismissal with the government. Sonia Khan, who was a special adviser to then-chancellor Sajid Javid, was dismissed last August over the alleged leaking of Brexit secrets.
The decision of the government to settle with her is likely to be seen as further evidence of Boris Johnson’s desire for a “reset” following the news that Cummings is to leave. It will also avoid potentially damaging evidence of the way Cummings ran the No 10 operation coming out in public hearings due to start next month.
During an angry confrontation in No 10, Cummings was reported to have accused Khan of being in contact with her former boss Philip Hammond who was chancellor under Theresa May – claims she denied.
She subsequently announced that she was taking the government to an employment tribunal, claiming unfair dismissal and sex discrimination.
In a statement, Khan said:
Following 14 months of negotiation, I have today reached a settlement with the Treasury, my former employer, and as a result I am no longer pursuing my employment tribunal claim which was due to be heard in London in December.
Having reached a settlement of these issues I am now moving on with my life and career. I have a fulfilling job as a consultant, I maintain great affection for the Conservative Party and remain a committed Conservative.
The party took me under its wing when I was a teen and I feel hugely privileged to have served as a special adviser under the last two prime ministers.
Mr Leave is leaving
Cummings is expected to leave his role by the end of the year after Downing Street became gripped by a bitter power struggle. The controversial Vote Leave veteran told the BBC that “rumours of me threatening to resign are invented” after suggestions he was preparing to quit alongside communications director Lee Cain.
But he said his “position hasn’t changed since my January blog” when he wrote that he hoped to make himself “largely redundant” by the end of 2020.
Cabinet minister Grant Shapps said Cummings “will be missed” but that he is not surprised the aide is departing, adding: “Advisers do come and go”.
Tory MPs openly aired their criticism after the infighting spilled into the open.
Conservative backbencher Roger Gale told PA:
The government, and Downing Street particularly, should be concentrating all of its efforts on the pandemic and on the end game of Brexit, and, frankly, this is a distraction that cannot and should not be allowed to take place and the prime minister has got to get a grip on it.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth highlighted the strain being heaped on the NHS and the public by coronavirus (Covid-19), adding:
And Downing Street is paralysed by the soap opera of these self-indulgent spin doctors. It’s pathetic.
His colleague on the Labour front bench, David Lammy, said of Cummings:
His legacy is one of bullying, deception, hypocrisy and hubris. The super-forecaster who ignored the pandemic. His damage is irreparable
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