Priti Patel 'absolutely livid' over 'false' bullying allegations

24 February 2020, 05:22

Priti Patel is said to be seeking a leak enquiry
Priti Patel is said to be seeking a leak enquiry. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Priti Patel has been left 'absolutely livid' over 'false allegations' she says are being made about her over bullying claims.

A friend of the Home Secretary said she was left "livid" over a raft of allegations in the media over distrust from intelligence chiefs and claims of disagreements with senior civil servants.

The ally of Ms Patel said she was demanding a leak inquiry to be carried out by the Cabinet Office, but officials in the department said there had not been a request received either formally or informally, exposing an apparent escalation of the row.

On Sunday the government dismissed claims that Security Service chiefs did not trust her and were limiting intelligence sharing.

The allegation over her relationship with top MI5 spies came after she was accused of bullying civil servants and creating an "atmosphere of fear" at the Home Office, which allies denied.

And it emerged last week that she had tried to move permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam from her department after they had a series of rows.

On Sunday, a Home Office spokesman said: "The Home Secretary and permanent secretary are deeply concerned about the number of false allegations appearing in the media.

"They are focused on delivering on the Home Office's hugely important agenda, which includes creating an immigration system that works for the UK, putting more police on the streets and keeping the public safe from terrorism."

The Security Services were dragged into the row when the Sunday Times reported officials alleging intelligence chiefs do "not trust" her and have decided to share less intelligence with her.

A Government spokesman responded: "The Home Secretary and MI5 have a strong and close working relationship, and baseless claims to the contrary are both wrong and against the public interest.

"The Home Secretary receives the same daily intelligence briefings as her predecessors, and no information is being withheld."

An ally said Ms Patel asked the Cabinet Office's director-general of propriety and ethics, Helen MacNamara, to carry out a formal leak inquiry.

But the ally said that Ms MacNamara has so far blocked the attempt.

This, however, was quickly denied by Cabinet Office sources who moved to say no request had been made to Ms MacNamara.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis was warning against the creation of "hit lists" for civil service staff.

His comments followed suggestions that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings want to replace a number of officials as part of a Whitehall shake-up.

Speaking to the BBC Mr Davis suggested the current issues in the civil service would not be resolved via a "firing squad".