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Priti Patel inquiry ‘finds evidence of bullying’

Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

The Prime Minister is expected to announce his decision about home secretary Priti Patel’s future in the Cabinet, after an inquiry found she had broken ministerial behaviour rules.

An independent investigation, commissioned by the Cabinet Office after former Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam resigned from his post alleging that Patel had “created fear” within the department, is reported to have found that she “had not met the requirements of the ministerial code to treat civil servants with consideration and respect”.

The report, carried out by government’s independent adviser on standards, Sir Alex Allan, has not been published. However, sources have told news outlets that the investigation found evidence of bullying, even if unintentional.

Patel has always denied the allegations and maintained that there had never been any formal complaints made against her.

Sir Philip Rutnam is pursuing a constructive dismissal claim at an employment tribunal, which is due to be heard over 10 days next September. He claimed Patel launched a “vicious and orchestrated campaign” against him for challenging the alleged mistreatment of civil servants.

It has also emerged that an official in the Department for Work and Pensions had received a £25,000 payout after she alleged that she had been bullied by then-employment minister Patel in 2015. The DWP did not admit liability and the case was settled before it reached a tribunal.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told BBC Breakfast that he believed the full inquiry into Patel’s conduct should be published.

“If these revelations are correct, it is tantamount to condoning bullying, and in no other workplace would this be acceptable. It smacks of one rule for the government and one rule for everyone else,” he said.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA senior civil servants’ union, told the BBC that civil servants would be asking what message it would send if the government said Patel did not have to resign.

“We need an independent process that’s not relying upon a Prime Minister making a political judgement rather than judging based on the evidence,” he added.

Last week it was revealed that a former special adviser to the government, Sonia Khan, was given a five-figure pay off just weeks before her unfair dismissal and sex discrimination claim was due to be heard at the employment tribunal. She was escorted out of Downing Street by police in August 2019 on the order of Dominic Cummings – Boris Johnson’s most senior aide – who left his position last week for unrelated reasons.

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