MI6 chief and civil service boss end Garrick Club membership after criticism over its exclusion of women

20 March 2024, 16:01

MI6 chief and civil service boss end Garrick Club membership after criticism over access for women
MI6 chief and civil service boss end Garrick Club membership after criticism over access for women. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

The head of the civil service and MI6's chief have resigned their membership from an exclusive London members club that excludes women.

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It comes after Cabinet Secretary Simon Case was questioned by MPs about his involvement in the near centuries-old institution - claiming he was working to reform the club "from within".

Mr Case is now understood to have quit the club following public outcry, The Times' Aubrey Allegretti reported, alongside the MI6 boss Sir Richard Moore.

The Guardian yesterday said it had published the Garrick Club's membership list, which included both Mr Case and Sir Richard, as well as King Charles and Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden.

Oliver Dowden, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Oliver Dowden, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Picture: Alamy

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While giving evidence to the Commons Liaison Sub-Committee of Strategic Thinking in Government on Tuesday, Mr Case was asked by Labour MP Liam Byrne whether he could "foster a genuine culture of inclusiveness" in the civil service "while being a member of an all-male club".

The civil service boss defended his involvement, telling MPs: "I have to say, my position on this one is clear, if you believe profoundly in reform of an institution, by and large it is easier to do if you join it and make the change from within rather than chuck rocks from the outside.

"And by the way, maths is also part of this. Every one person who leaves who is in favour of fixing this antediluvian position, every one of us who leaves means these institutions don't change.

"I think when you want reform you have to participate."

Mr Case continued: "I'm very sure I speak on behalf of all the public servants who have recently joined the Garrick under the banner of trying to make reform happen."

The civil service boss stepped back from his role as Cabinet Secretary in October following an illness. He returned to work in January and now continues to work alongside the government.

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Brian Cox, known for 'Succession', at the 75th Emmy Awards, January 15, 2024. Picture: Alamy

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Before being appointed Cabinet Secretary by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2020, Mr Case served as private secretary to the then Prince of Wales.

Chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin asked committee member Sir Robert Buckland if he wanted to "declare an interest", as the Conservative former justice secretary was named as one of the Garrick's 1,500 or so members.

"Yes I do, and I do so," said Sir Robert.

As well as Sir Robert and Mr Case, The Guardian reported that the club, near Leicester Square, counts among its members Tories including Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Others said to be members include Succession star Brian Cox, former England men's football manager Roy Hodgson and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, The Guardian reported.

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