Six bureaucrats quit tough British minister Shriti Vadera

November 4th, 2008 - 5:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownLondon, Nov 4 (IANS) The British government has blocked an opposition query about an Indian origin minister who is a close confidante of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, amid reports that her tough approach has led to six bureaucrats quitting their jobs.Lady Shriti Vadera, a powerful ex-banker known for her no-nonsense approach, has been a key aide to Brown since his days as finance minister.

Brown brought her into the ministry of business in January and made her minister for economic competitiveness and small business in October in a cabinet reshuffle. Vadera took charge of the ministry after playing a key role in helping bail out British banks that faced collapse in the credit crunch.

But The Independent newspaper, quoting official figures, reported Tuesday that six of the staff in permanent positions in her private office have left their jobs since her appointment in the department of business in January.

It said the opposition Conservative Party has now asked to know the number of complaints by staff while Vadera worked as an adviser to Gordon Brown from 1999 to 2007, when he was finance minister.

But it said the query has been blocked on the grounds that the information could involve “sensitive personal data”.

Conservative MP Alan Duncan, the shadow business secretary, said: “Hardly a week goes by without somebody phoning us to say we really ought to look at how she behaves. Something is going on here. We really need to know just what.”

However, Vadera has been backed by business leaders.

“If the Civil Service is complaining about her, then probably more ministers should be like her - she gets things done,” said Stephen Alambritis, head of parliamentary affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses.

The newspaper said: “With Mr Brown’s position in Downing Street more secure, Lady Vadera does not need to worry too much over the grumbling about her. The prime minister’s aides say he respects her intellect and judgement. Unlike some civil servants, it seems that Mr Brown relishes an argument with the combative Labour peer.”

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