Priti Patel 'broke rules on ministerial behaviour', leaked report claims

19 November 2020, 18:41 | Updated: 20 November 2020, 06:38

Priti Patel broke rules on Ministerial behaviour, a leaked report has claimed
Priti Patel broke rules on Ministerial behaviour, a leaked report has claimed. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A draft report into allegations of bullying by the Home Secretary found she broke ministerial rules on behaviour, it has been reported.

The Cabinet Office launched an inquiry into Priti Patel's behaviour after Sir Philip Rutnam, the most senior Home Office Civil Servant, quit his job in February.

Sir Philip is currently suing for unfair dismissal and claims Ms Patel "created fear" in the department.

Ms Patel has always denied the allegations, but a source told the BBC the report concluded: "The home secretary had not met the requirements of the ministerial code to treat civil servants with consideration and respect".

It was also reported that although they found allegations of bullying, although they may not have been intentional.

A UK Government spokesperson told LBC: "The process is ongoing and the Prime Minister will make any decision on the matter public once the process has concluded."

The Cabinet Office launched an inquiry into Priti Patel's behaviour after Sir Philip Rutnam, the most senior Home Office official, quit his job in February
The Cabinet Office launched an inquiry into Priti Patel's behaviour after Sir Philip Rutnam, the most senior Home Office official, quit his job in February. Picture: PA

The report has yet to be officially published, and Labour has said it needs to be published without delay.

The Financial Times said that the probe would be concluded "imminently" but that Boris Johnson would only issue Ms Patel with a written warning, rather than dismissing her from the Cabinet.

Citing unnamed Whitehall officials, the paper said the Prime Minister was intending to "fudge" the outcome of the report which has "robust criticisms" of Ms Patel's behaviour.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: "Reports that the Home Secretary is to receive a written warning for conduct in government are incredibly serious.

"The role of Home Secretary comes with huge levels of responsibility and trust. It is now vital that the full report is published without delay, so the public can have full confidence in the decision-making process."

Dave Penman, general secretary of senior civil servants' union the FDA, said: "In his foreword to the ministerial code, Boris Johnson said: 'There must be no bullying and no harassment'.

"If, as is being suggested, substance has been found in some of the allegations against the Home Secretary, then the Prime Minister should have no choice but to conclude that the code has been breached.

"As Prime Minister, he is the sole arbiter of the ministerial code but he is also Minister for the Civil Service.

"Having pledged his support for the Home Secretary when the investigation began, and now sat on the report since the summer, he has already undermined confidence in this being a fair and impartial process."

Mr Penman said the Prime Minister should publish the report and introduce a new independent complaints system.

Downing Street did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the reports.

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