Labour has branded revelations that there were more than 170 applications for ananti-sleaze watchdog job handed to aBullingdon Club acquaintance of Boris Johnson as an “utter joke”.
Ewen Fergusson was handed a seat on the Committee on Standards in Public Life last month in what was described as an “open and fair competition” by the government.
According to multiple reports, the pair know each other from their days at Oxford University, where both belonged to the Bullingdon Club, a notorious elite dining society of which former prime minister David Cameron was also a member at the same time.
Mr Fergusson has spent most of his career at international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and is a non-magistrate member of the Lord Chancellor’s advisory committee for south-east England, according to his official Government biography.
He features in a famous 1987 picture of Bullingdon Club members wearing contrasting black and white three-piece suits and bow ties while at university, with Mr Johnson in the front row and Mr Cameron stood towards the back.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said this university connection should have disqualified him from the role.
In response to a written parliamentary question, Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith explained that there were 173 applications for the two positions on the committee, that the panel found Fergusson “appointable”, and the appointment was carried out in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments.
Rayner, who is also shadow chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “Being Boris Johnson’s chum from the Bullingdon Club does not qualify you to sit on the watchdog that is supposed to crack down on sleaze and cronyism in our politics. In fact, it should disqualify you.
“This appointment is an utter joke, and out of 173 applicants of course the Bullingdon Boy fits the job description of marking the Prime Minister’s homework.”