Jon Shortridge


Jon Shortridge

Sir Jon Shortridge KCB (born 1947) became Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Office in March 1999 and of the National Assembly for Wales on its creation in May 1999. He became Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Assembly Government on its establishment as a separate institution in May 2007, and left the post at the end of April 2008. [citeweb|url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7034469.stm|title=Wales’ top civil servant retires|publisher=BBC Wales|date=October 08 2007|accessdate=2008-07-18]

He was educated at Chichester High School and has a degree (MA) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, and in Urban Design and Regional Planning (MSc) from Edinburgh University. He has two children.

He joined the Welsh Office in 1984. Between 1987 and 1988 he was Private Secretary to two Secretaries of State for Wales, Nicholas Edwards and Peter Walker. From 1988 to 1992 he was Head of the Welsh Office’s Finance Division. He undertook the Senior Management Review of the Welsh Office in 1995, and was appointed Director of Economic Affairs in 1997, with responsibility for establishing the National Assembly for Wales.

In December 2002, Sir Jon was summoned by the Audit Committee of the National Assembly for Wales in order to be questioned over delays and rising costs surrounding the construction of a new debating chamber, which was to become the Senedd. £250,000 of taxpayers' money was spent on a legal dispute with sacked architects, the Richard Rogers Partnership. [citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2589511.stm|title=Top civil servant faces assembly questions|publisher=BBC Wales|date=December 19 2002|accessdate=2008-07-18] He stated during the hearing that the design submitted by the Richard Rogers Partnership would not have been eligible for the original competition if the true costs had been known. [citeweb|url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2591141.stm|title=Legal action over assembly HQ defended|publisher=BBC Wales|date=December 19 2002|accessdate=2008-07-18]

Welsh Assembly Government and Retirement

Sir Jon's career ended on a note of bad publicity over staffing matters. First was the case of an accusation of sexual harassment from a senior manager towards a minor grade employee, Christine Davies. Mrs Davies went on to confirm that "sexual harassment and bullying is widespread in the Welsh Assembly – and that women are intimidated by some male bosses on a daily basis" [citeweb|url=http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2008/01/06/assembly-boss-serial-sex-pest-91466-20317097/|title=Assembly boss 'serial sex pest'|publisher=Wales on Sunday|date=January 06 2008|accessdate=2008-07-21] [citeweb|url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-506651/Senior-civil-servant-tells-female-make-good-tarty-waitress.html|title=Senior civil servant tells female she would make a good 'tarty waitress'|publisher=Daily Mail|date=January 08 2008|accessdate=2008-09-21] [citeweb|url=http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/cardiff-news/2008/01/09/judgement-day-in-sex-assault-case-91466-20329911/|title=Judgement day in sex assault case|publisher=Western Mail|date=January 09 2008|accessdate=2008-09-21] [citeweb|url=http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2008/01/13/sex-pest-victim-sexual-harassment-rife-at-assembly-91466-20343359/|title='Sexual harassment rife at Assembly' - claim|publisher=Wales on Sunday|date=January 13 2008|accessdate=2008-09-21] . Sir Jon called for an internal inquiry after a judge upheld complaints that a senior civil servant sexually harassed a woman colleague [citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7189301.stm|title=Fresh review after groping case|publisher=Western Mail|date=January 15 2008|accessdate=2008-09-21] . This resulted in the civil service of the Welsh Assembly Government clearing itself of all blame from its own inquiry into the allegations, and immediately before Sir Jon retired from office [citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7374248.stm|title=Change urged after 'groping' case|publisher=BBC Wales|date=April 29 2008|accessdate=2008-09-21] .

Sir Jon also headed up the Welsh Assembly Government civil service that dismissed blogger Christopher Glamorganshire in the Autumn of 2007. Glamorganshire ran a blog which provided what readers saw as a neutral running commentary on 2007’s coalition negotiations involving Labour and Plaid Cymru. Former Conservative Assembly Member Glyn Davies, a regular blogger, is quoted as saying “The Christopher Glamorganshire blog was on my list of ‘my favourites’. It seemed to me to be written in a sensible and rational manner. Clearly, if his contract of employment said he was not allowed to blog, he doesn’t have much of a case. But if it is simply a question of supposedly contravening the code, I think sacking him is very harsh and heavy handed. This all smacks of the heavy hand of the state.” [citeweb|url=http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics-news/2008/07/09/sacked-blogger-s-taking-case-to-tribunal-91466-21308104/|title=Sacked blogger’s taking case to tribunal|publisher=Western Mail|date=July 09 2008|accessdate=2008-07-18]

Betsan Powys, Political Editor for BBC Wales reported on 18 September, 2008 that the Employment Tribunal is still going ahead, and that it's unlikely to be heard until next year (2009) but that it will be discussed in an internal meeting, presumably in government offices in Cathays Park, next week. Ms Powys also reports on correspondence seen from solicitors acting for the government, mentioning that they don't mince their words "The letter ends on what I'll call a blunt note: go ahead and we'll apply for a full costs order against you, one that covers all fees, charges, disbursements and expenses incurred by WAG." Bluntly ending with "Give in now and we won't." [citeweb|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/betsanpowys/2008/09/if_you_were_born_in.html|title=Free speech, huge bills?|publisher=BBC Wales|date=September 18 2008|accessdate=2008-09-21]

Offices held

References


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