An inquiry into the behaviour of Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who faces legal action from former employees over her treatment of them at the workplace, has found that she broke the ministerial code on bullying.
This is according to “informed sources”, who spoke to several major newspapers, as the government has so-far failed to publish the inquiry’s final report.
A person understood to have seen the report told the BBC that it was “unambiguous in stating that Priti Patel broke the ministerial code and that the Prime Minister buried it”, although it also allows that the harm caused by her conduct may have been unintentional.
The inquiry found that Patel’s behaviour, on several occasions, met the civil service’s definition of bullying – “intimidating or insulting behaviour that makes an individual feel uncomfortable, frightened, less respected or put down”.
Boris Johnson was expected to rule on Patel’s fitness for office after the conclusion of the report was leaked yesterday (19 November), but today has declared the matter “closed” and announced that the Home Secretary will keep her job. In response, Sir Alex Allan – author of the report and an independent advisor to the prime minister on ministerial standards – has resigned.
It is believed the report was passed to the Prime Minister months ago, but never saw the light of day, in actions the Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, has warned look increasingly like a “cover up”.
Labour leader, Keir Starmer, added: “It is hard to imagine another workplace in the UK where this behaviour would be condoned by those at the top.”
“The government should be setting an example. Instead, it is one rule for Boris Johnson and his friends, another for everyone else.”
Scrutiny into the Home Secretary’s behaviour began when senior civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, quit his post as Permanent Secretary in February, claiming to have been the victim of a “vicious and orchestrated campaign” after he attempted to challenge her treatment of her staff.
Other civil servants have since come forward to corroborate his story, with reports of workers collapsing after disputes with Patel, and of one person being given a £25,000 settlement as alleged ‘hush money’ after attempting suicide when they were forced out of their job.
Sir Rutnam has taken legal action against the Home Secretary and his case for constructive dismissal is due to be heard at an Employment Tribunal next September.