'I never heard her raise her voice'- Former Priti Patel adviser denies bullying allegations

20 November 2020, 10:32

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A former adviser to Priti Patel has denied allegations that there was a "climate of fear" at the Home Office amid allegations of bullying.

The conversation comes as demands from Labour for the publication of the full inquiry findings into the claims against the Home Secretary amid reports she was found to have broken the rules for ministers.

One former Home Office insider spoke to LBC's Nick Ferrari explaining he did not think the allegations were correct.

James Starkie, who was the chief of staff for the Home Secretary and several other high profile Government Ministers answered questions from Nick.

"Is Priti Patel a bully, and did she create a climate of fear?" was Nick's first question, to which the former adviser to the embattled Home Secretary replied simply "no," denying the allegations.

He told LBC he understood the report, which he has not seen, covers a period of time which he worked at the Home Office but that he "never saw a single incident that I would describe as bullying."

The former adviser said that the job at the top of Government were high pressured and demanding.

Praising the Home Secretary he told LBC he found "Priti to be an incredibly supportive boss."

"I never heard her raise her voice or use any of the language suggested in today's papers."

A draft report last summer found the Home Secretary had breached the requirements in the ministerial code to treat civil servants with consideration and respect - although any bullying may not have been "intentional".

Mr Starkie continued to support the Home Secretary saying he had not yet seen "a specific incident cited which she should apologise for."

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

It followed the resignation of the Home Office's permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam who accused Ms Patel of a "vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign" against him and is claiming constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal.

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

Earlier this week, the former cabinet secretary Lord Sedwill told MPs the investigation was now "with" the Prime Minister, who had discussed it with his independent adviser on ministers' interests, Sir Alex Allan.

A Government spokesman said: "The process is ongoing and the Prime Minister will make any decision on the matter public once the process has concluded."