Open government? Forget it!

Were you invited to the recent (28 February) annual dinner of the Community Security Trust? No? Well, neither was I. But the Prime Minister was, and with good reason. Addressing the assembled multitude – which included a veritable small army of chief constables – our Prime Minister announced that His Majesty’s government had determined to award the CST the princely sum of £72million to provide a range of security measures for Anglo-Jewry over a four-year period until 2028.

That money is of course the taxpayers’. It comes from you and me. And where the spending of taxpayers’ money is concerned its disbursement is – or is supposed to be – regulated by His Majesty’s Treasury.

This regulation is detailed in a document of some 230 pages entitled Managing Public Money, which you can download free from the Treasury website. It provides, amongst many other things, that where the spending of taxpayers’ money is concerned there must be what is termed “propriety and value for money tests” and that institutions wishing to be considered as recipients of such largesse should normally be subject to a stringent open competition.

None of this appears to have happened in the case of the unprecedented grant made to the CST and announced by the Prime Minister at its annual dinner!

I know this because on the very day that the grant was announced the Home Secretary – James Cleverly – received a peppery letter from his most senior civil servant, Sir Matthew Rycroft, the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary. Sir Matthew did not mince his words. Outlining the stipulations contained in Managing Public Money, he then revealed that they had not been followed in the decision to award the CST £72 millions.  He had therefore proposed that the CST be made a grant for one year instead of four, and that a competition be run for subsequent years.

Mr Cleverly was having none of this. And because he was having none of this, Sir Matthew required a “written instruction to proceed with a three-year extension to the CST.”

Mr Cleverly has duly complied!

What this means is that the Home Office – indeed the entire government – has chosen the CST as its preferred partner where Jewish communal defence is concerned.  Not the Board of Deputies. Not the Jewish Leadership Council. Not the Campaign Against Antisemitism. Not the Shomrim. But the Community Security Trust, a purely private entity whose outrageous claim (trumpeted on its website) to “represent British Jews on issues of racism, antisemitism, extremism, policing and security” would be farcical if it were not actually so tragic.

Editor’s note: The CST manages the Home Office money for payment of commercial company guards who work at hundreds of Jewish communal buildings. This is not work undertaken by CST and is a cost that would otherwise need to be met by the communities themselves. For more information click HERE






About the Author
Professor Geoffrey Alderman is an academic, author and journalist