The Mystery of the Disappearing Commercial Specialists (With Apologies To Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

“Holmes, what do you know of the Civil Service Commission"?

I asked my friend that question one sultry August afternoon, as we sat in our lodgings in Baker Street.

"You mean the independent body that oversees the civil service code, and senior civil service appointments? The group that ensures that suitable individuals are chosen for senior roles rather than those who would purchase such appointment by donations to the more dastardly of our political masters”?

The great man was ahead of me as always.

"Indeed, the very same. Their annual report has been published, and it makes particular mention of the recruitment of senior commercial specialists, at the very exalted SCS2 level. Apparently the aim was to recruit no less than 25 of these fine individuals, yet ultimately only 12 positions were filled".

"Interesting. So you want me to speculate as to why that was the case? One might start as always with the question of money. It is usually that or sex, Watson, as we have found many times. In this case, as the senior procurement citizens of our nation are not known for their sexual depravity, then I suspect …."

Unusually, I interrupted Holmes in full flow.

"No, no Holmes, whilst that is an interesting conundrum, there is more. The Cabinet Office has also recently released its list of senior staff, their names - except for those who refuse to give permission for that disclosure - job titles, salaries and even something called an email address”.

"So you want me to use my powers of deduction to predict the salary for our fine new Chief Commercial Officer, Gareth Rhys Williams, perhaps? Let us say…  I estimate 238,095.2 guineas per year?"

“Good heavens Holmes, you are a remarkable man. Spot on, old chap. But no, that was not my point either. It is that the list of senior staff in the Commercial area is only three strong - Mr Williams, Mr Kamellard, a fine gentleman I have known since my days in the service of the Queen, and Jin Sahota – who I believe has left the Cabinet Office for the Department of Health now anyway.  So my point is this. Where are these 12 senior commercial specialists that have been recruited, yet are not listed here”?

Holmes sat up, suddenly alert.

“Might it be because they were not employed for the whole year”?

“No, I believe the Cabinet Office report lists staff at March 31st”.

“And are we sure they are part of the Chief Commercial Officer cadre? Are they not working in individual departments?”

“Certainly most of them were recruited to work in Cabinet Office, I believe - I have found reports of these individuals joining the Complex Transactions Team, in Cabinet Office, looking at the most challenging procurement and commercial issues around government. Where else would they be located”?

I could see Holmes becoming engaged with this peculiar case.

“So, they have disappeared into thin air! Do you remember the Man with the Twisted Lip Watson? Another disappearance ..."

I am afraid I interrupted my friend again.

“Yes, Holmes, I remember well. But I do not think we will find these twelve paragons of commercial virtuosity and virtue begging outside a squalid opium den, as in that case. Although it might be worth checking the Westminster Arms…"

“Watson, they cannot have disappeared. So, a puzzle indeed – worthy of our interest, I believe”.

He called down the stairs to our landlady.

“Mrs Hudson! A Hansom cab to Whitehall please. Oh, and if there’s a twenty minute wait as usual, just get us an Uber".


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First Voice

  1. Final Furlong:

    I think I’ve found some of them. I look forward to the second instalment

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