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Cabinet Office promises auto-sacking for breaking email rules

O'Donnell dampens flames with warm flannel

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Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell has confirmed that Number 10 special advisor Damian McBride's email activities, which emerged at the weekend, were a serious breach of government rules.

Replying to a letter from MP Francis Maude, O'Donnell confirmed that using government resources for party political purposes is in breach of the "Code of Conduct for Special Advisers".

The top civil servant said "procedures" around these rules were now being strengthened, and Permanent Secretaries were to tell special advisers of the change and get them to sign a piece of paper confirming their understanding.

So any Special Adviser or Minister caught using government email to play party politics, or "disseminating inappropriate material", will now be automatically dismissed. That should do it then.

The letter also confirmed that McBride is to receive no severance pay and that no other "Minister or political adviser other than Damian McBride had any knowledge of, or involvement in, the e-mails which were covered in the weekend newspapers." ®

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