Labour demands Priti Patel bullying inquiry is published immediately

11 July 2020, 17:44

Priti Patel expressed concern at the "false" claims
Priti Patel expressed concern at the "false" claims. Picture: PA

By Megan White

An inquiry into allegations that Home Secretary Priti Patel bullied officials must be published immediately, Labour has demanded.

A Cabinet Office investigation was launched in March over claims that Ms Patel belittled colleagues and clashed with senior officials in three different departments.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds wrote to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove on Saturday saying the delay in publishing the findings is "unacceptable".

In a letter to Mr Gove, Mr Thomas-Symonds and shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said the delay "creates the clear sense that the Government is acting in the interests of a Conservative Party elite, rather than the national interest".

"We have been asking frontline public servants to make extraordinary sacrifices throughout this pandemic and it is only right that they have full faith in those in Government who make demands of them," they said.

"This report must now be published immediately for it to be properly considered before recess begins, and we look forward to your confirmation of this."

It comes after reports in The Times of a "stand-off" between senior officials and political aides over the publication of the inquiry's findings.

The paper said senior civil servant Helen MacNamara is refusing to exonerate Ms Patel from some of the allegations of bullying, despite Boris Johnson's aides reportedly wanting to say the inquiry found no conclusive evidence.

Sir Philip Rutnam, who was the Home Office's permanent secretary, quit earlier this year accusing the Home Secretary of a "vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign" against him.

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

Mr Thomas-Symonds said: "It has been over four months since the Government promised a report into whether the Home Secretary broke the Ministerial Code.

"There are now allegations of deeply inappropriate political interference in the publication of the report, both in terms of content and timing. The delay in producing it is totally unacceptable.

"Yet again the Government is acting in the interests of a Conservative Party elite, rather than the national interest. I've written to the Minister for the Cabinet Office calling for the report to be published immediately, so that it can be properly considered before the recess."

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister asked the Cabinet Office to establish the facts of the case, in line with the Ministerial Code.

"That process is ongoing and we will respond to the letter in due course."