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Ssssh - it's you know who...

Learning and Skills Council staff's accusations that the organisation has a culture of secrecy are borne out by our experience.

The idea of a journalist wanting to write a piece in the light of the chief executive John Harwood's decision to retire early caused consternation in the Coventry headquarters last month. The message went out from the chief spin doctor to all 47 executive directors (EDs) of local LSCs: "TES and request for comment - beware!"

Jan Davison sent an email saying, "Ngaio Crequer is planning to run a negative story on the LSC next week around John's announcement, reshaping and anything else that comes to hand such as our apparent failings in working with business.

"Ngaio is approaching EDs for quotes - please do not speak to her without checking with (the press office) first. As I mentioned at the NET (national executive team) meeting it is important to remain a strong and united organisation through the next few months and off the record quotes will not be helpful. David Russell (director of human resources and corporate services) has briefed Ngaio fully in the hope of achieving some balance in the piece."

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