Page last updated at 02:39 GMT, Sunday, 7 September 2008 03:39 UK

Minister's apology to female aide

Ivan Lewis
Ivan Lewis joined the Department of Health in 2006

A junior health minister has apologised unreservedly to a civil servant after she told managers she was unhappy with the nature of their relationship.

The woman worked in the private office of Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South, but asked to be transferred last year.

In a statement, the Health department said no formal complaint had been made against Mr Lewis, and the matter had been handled "sensitively".

The woman was given another job, but has since left the civil service.

'Hard-working'

The Department of Health said: "In 2007 a member of staff in the private office of Ivan Lewis informed her managers that she was unhappy with the nature of her working relationship with the minister.

"The situation was handled professionally and sensitively in full accordance with the employee's wishes. She raised no formal complaint against the minister and, as indicated, all the actions to resolve the matter were agreed with her.

"It was in that context that the decision was taken at the time not to pursue the matter further.

"At her request she left the minister's office and was given another job in the department. She was a hard-working, extremely competent employee and we were sad to see her subsequently leave the Department of Health.

"The minister in question apologises unreservedly."

Mr Lewis, 41, has been MP for Bury South since 1997. He joined the government as a junior education minister in 2001 and later moved to the Treasury, before being given his current responsibility for social care and mental health in 2006.

In May, he made headlines by saying Labour should apologise to voters, party members and workers for "mistakes made in recent times".




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