Ex-Civil Service boss says PM is choosing to 'bend the rules' to suit Priti Patel

20 November 2020, 18:15 | Updated: 20 November 2020, 18:30

By Sam Sholli

A former Head of the UK Civil Service has told LBC that Boris Johnson is choosing to "bend the rules" to suit Priti Patel amid calls for her to be sacked from her position as Home Secretary.

Lord Kerslake, who served as the Head of the Civil Service from 2011 to 2014, made the remark after a bullying inquiry found that Home Secretary Priti Patel had broken ministerial rules on behaviour.

Boris Johnson has opted not to sack Priti Patel despite the inquiry's findings, prompting his adviser on Ministerial Standards Sir Alex Allan to resign.

The Prime Minister judged that the ministerial code was not breached by Mrs Patel amid allegations of bullying despite a report by Sir Alex saying that the Home Secretary had "not consistently met the high standards expected of her".

Responding to the news, Mrs Patel said she is "sorry that my behaviour in the past has upset people".

Lord Kerslake told LBC's Eddie Mair: "I fear that the Prime Minister is just not learning the lessons of his previous mistakes. The damage done when he hung on to Dominic Cummings following the Barnard Castle incident was huge..."

He added: "Here we go again really. [There has been a] serious breach of the rules that in every other circumstance would have resulted in action.

Lord Kerslake then suggested Boris Johnson had opted not to sack Priti Patel from her post because "it's not politically convenient" for him and that he had chosen to "bend the rules to suit a particular minister".

He added: "I think that does undermine confidence in Government and therefore undermines the authority of Government in imposing, rightly in my view, the restrictions that we're now having.

"So I think it is a serious issue of authority and credibility of the Government and whether they genuinely believe in upholding standards.

"Perhaps the other point to make here is that, if there's an issue of bullying elsewhere in Government, do we think that civil servants will have the confidence to make a complaint in light of of what's happened here? I'm not sure they will."