Email Leak Exposes Government Touting For Honours Nominations

You may not believe this but it seems that senior executives at hundreds of companies, including some that have profited from the pandemic, like Serco, have been urged to come up with nominations for the 2022 New Year honours list.

The names of more than 500 business leaders canvassed for suggestions of worthy recipients were inadvertently leaked as a result of a gaffe by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which accidentally released the top bosses’ direct email addresses.

The error occurred in an email sent to the bosses urging them to think about who to nominate for an honour and how best to go about putting names forward. But instead of using the bcc (blind carbon copy) option, which disguises the recipients of a bulk email, the department used the cc option, meaning that everyone in the chain could see each other’s addresses.

The guidance offered to the recipients of the email includes how to write a successful nomination for staff who they think could be considered in the honours process. Recipients of the email include Rupert Soames, the boss of outsourcing firm Serco, which has received criticism for handing out bonuses and dividends while benefiting from the government’s much-criticised £37bn test and trace scheme.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, which regulates data protection, can fine public bodies up to a maximum of £17.5m for breaches of GDPR. The breach is not thought to be serious enough to warrant a fine, but it does offer an insight into how the government goes about helping big businesses ensure that their staff are nominated for honours.

Company leaders were invited to join one of three online forums on Zoom to help “demystify” the honours process. A guidance document attached to the email included advice on how to write a successful nomination.

In a separate letter, the BEIS permanent secretary, Sarah Munby, wrote “I would like to draw on your knowledge and expertise to identify deserving individuals and ensure that their contribution is rewarded and celebrated in this very public way”.

We do not believe Serco would be crass enough to suggest anyone employed by them for a gong, even for the ongoing support they receive from Labour West Lancashire Borough Council as they “strive” to deliver an improved leisure facility at the Beacon Park Golf Course. Eight years on from the first delivery of landfill and still allowed to avoid the legal consequences of a Breach of Planning Condition Notice served on 18th May 2018, it would be strange to read the citation of such a gong “For services to golf course creation”?

But you never know!

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