Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is facing growing calls to resign following the emergence of controversial WhatsApp messages during the height of the pandemic.

Former civil servants have privately expressed grave concerns over leaked messages that have shown him criticising Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak and mocking holidaymakers forced to quarantine during the Covid crisis.

One ex-official said the recent revelations had re-ignited long-standing misgivings towards the Cabinet Secretary, who is seen to have failed to stick up for the civil service and its employees during the fallout from the Partygate inquiries.

“He is not hugely well-liked among the service,” one source told i. “[He acts] like an overgrown man-child who wants to be a spad [special adviser to ministers]. I’d be staggered if he doesn’t resign.”

It comes as reports emerged on Wednesday that Mr Case will have no choice but to resign due to WhatsApp messages that have yet to be published as part of the cache of texts that were handed to a journalist by the former health secretary Matt Hancock.

Whitehall’s head of the civil service is already facing calls to quit from Tory MPs and senior ministers over messages, which showed him describing Mr Johnson as a “nationally distrusted figure” and claimed Mr Sunak went “bonkers” over contact tracing.

Mr Case is under increased scrutiny over his handling of Nadhim Zahawi’s appointment as chancellor and Conservative Party chair when he was under investigation by HM Revenue and Customs over his tax affairs.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R), flanked by Britain's Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Simon Case, chairs a Cabinet meeting at a pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, on May 12, 2022 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Simon Case, left, was at the centre of government during the pandemic (Photo: Oli Scarff: Getty Images)

He is also facing criticism over his handling of complaints about Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, who is under investigation for a string of allegations of bullying. Mr Raab denies allegations of bullying.

One former member of the No 10 team said Mr Case had “not handled events of the last year well”, adding that there was a sense of anger over his failure to support officials during the partygate scandal.

“It’s a mixture of that, badly handled HR, and the fact he’s personally conflicted,” the source said in reference to Mr Case’s presence at Partygate gatherings.

Labour MP Lloyd Russell Moyle yesterday raised doubts about the Cabinet Secretary after he revealed Mr Case had invited the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee for drinks in the Cabinet Office during the pandemic.

“We refused the invitation because we believed it wasn’t in the spirit of the guidelines at the time, which the Cabinet Secretary eventually agreed with,” Mr Russell Moyle told i. “We felt it wasn’t a sensible thing to do but that was a clear indication of the culture in No 10 at the time under the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary.”

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The Labour backbencher added that, while it was not unusual for cabinet secretaries to be kept on after a change of administration, there was “no chance in hell he’ll be kept on by Keir Starmer” should Labour come to power.

As part of the thousands of WhatsApp messages handed to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Case is found to have repeatedly called into doubt Mr Johnson’s honesty, while also complaining about the former prime minister for being too optimistic about the economy, branding him “Bouncing Boris J”.

He also described the fact 149 holidaymakers were forced to stay in quarantine hotels as “hilarious”, joking about them being “locked up” in “shoe box” rooms.

However, someone who worked in No10 alongside Mr Case was sympathetic towards the top civil servant, saying the Cabinet Secretary would not have expected the messages to be leaked and had an expectation of privacy.

They added: “It’s all totally grim. Without getting all Adam Curtis, we are all now constantly surveilling ourselves – our instinctive responses committed to pixel forever.

“I think it would be fairer if we fitted everyone at Grade 7 or above in Whitehall with bodycam footage recording every utterance and aside. It’s all a total clusterfuck.”

And a former senior civil servant said: “I think there will be some people [in Whitehall] who just see it as normal private banter-like discussion. But then some who don’t think it’s appropriate for the Cab Sec. My view is that it depends if he’s caught out saying different things to different people – that’s what will cause him problems. And I haven’t quite seen that yet.”

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