Thursday, 25 February, 2021


Bullying inquiry found Patel ‘broke the rules for ministers’

Timeline of events in Priti Patel bullying inquiry Bullying inquiry found Patel ‘broke the rules for ministers’ – report
Bennie Garza | 20 November, 2020, 20:49

It was revealed the Prime Minister had asked the Cabinet Office to "establish the facts" following allegations that Ms Patel has breached the ministerial code.

In addition, no feedback was given to the home secretary of the impact of her behaviour, which meant she was unaware of issues that she could otherwise have addressed.

But the government said the prime minister had "full confidence" in Patel and "considers this matter now closed".

Multiple sources familiar with a draft of the report told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg that Patel failed to meet requirements of the ministerial code - a government document that sets out rules and standards for United Kingdom ministers.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC that she was an "excellent Home Secretary" who had "been nothing but courteous and kind in all the dealings I've had with her".

The Ministerial Code says "ministers should be professional in their working relationships with the civil service and treat all those with whom they come into contact with consideration and respect". A report to into Ms Patel's conduct carried out by Sir Alex said: "Her approach on occasions has amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals". Sir Alex's advice found that the Home Secretary had become - justifiably in many instances - frustrated by the Home Office leadership's lack of responsiveness and the lack of support she felt in DfID three years ago. "It has never been my intention to cause upset to anyone", Patel said in a statement. "I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his support".

Sir Philip Rutnam
Sir Philip Rutnam launched a blistering attack on Ms Patel when he quit his role at the end of February

Opposition politicians accused the prime minister of condoning bullying.

He said: "It is hard to imagine another workplace in the United Kingdom where this behaviour would be condoned by those at the top".

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case declined to state whether the report would ever be published, saying it was up to the Prime Minister to draw conclusions from the probe and decide whether to make it public.

It has also emerged that an official in the Department for Work and Pensions had received a £25,000 payout after she alleged that she had been bullied by then-employment minister Patel in 2015. "It smacks of one rule for the government and one rule for everyone else", he said. "Yet when one of his own ministers is found to have bullied their staff he ignores the damning report sat on his desk and instead protects them".

A long-awaited investigation into allegations of bullying by Priti Patel must be published without delay, Labour has demanded as it labelled reports that the Home Secretary will be issued with a warning as "incredibly serious". The top civil servant in the Home Office, Philip Rutnam resigned in March, saying Patel had belittled employees and fostered an environment of fear in the department.

Ms Patel has expressed concern at the "false" claims, and allies have described her as a "demanding" boss but not a bully.

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