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PM’s standards adviser QUITS as Boris Johnson REFUSES to sack Priti Patel after bullying probe

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The Prime Minister’s adviser on standards sensationally quit today as Boris Johnson refused to sack Priti Patel as Home Secretary in the wake of a report into bullying.

Sir Alex Allan resigned this morning as Ms Patel apologised for ‘her past behaviour’ in the wake of his long-awaited probe into the senior Cabinet minister’s relationship with her staff.

The PM let the Home Secretary off with her apology after the investigation launched in March found she broke the ministerial code but also blasted ‘inflexible’ civil servants for obstructing her. 

Normally ministers are expected to resign if they breach the code, but the Prime Minister makes the final decision. 

This morning Sir Alex released a statement saying: ‘I recognise that it is for the Prime Minister to make a judgement on whether actions by a Minister amount to a breach of the Ministerial Code. 

‘But I feel that it is right that I should now resign from my position as the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on the Code.’   

Sir Alex concluded that Ms Patel had ‘not consistently met the high standards required by the ministerial code’.  But she will be allowed to keep her job by Boris Johnson after Sir Alex’s report found that any bullying was ‘unintentional’.   

He handed her another get-out-of-jail free card by also including heavy criticism of the senior civil servants that she worked with. 

In a statement this morning Ms Patel said: ‘I am sorry that my behaviour in the past has upset people. It has never been my intention to cause upset to anyone. 

‘I am very grateful for the hard work of thousands of civil servants who help to deliver the Government’s agenda.’ 

The decision – taken during the UK’s anti-bullying week – is certain to cause a furious new row in Westminster at a time when Mr Johnson is attempting to rest his government after the departure of top aide Dominic Cummings last week. 

Demands have been growing for the publication of its findings into Ms Patel's (pictured today) conduct

Demands have been growing for the publication of its findings into Ms Patel’s (pictured today) conduct

Sir Alex Allan resigned this morning as Ms Patel apologised for 'her past behaviour' in the wake of his long-awaited probe into the senior Cabinet minister's relationship with her staff

Sir Alex Allan resigned this morning as Ms Patel apologised for ‘her past behaviour’ in the wake of his long-awaited probe into the senior Cabinet minister’s relationship with her staff

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Times Radio today she was 'nothing but courteous', adding: 'The truth is she's also absolutely determined to deliver on the priorities on which we were elected. She's a brilliant Home Secretary'

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Times Radio today she was ‘nothing but courteous’, adding: ‘The truth is she’s also absolutely determined to deliver on the priorities on which we were elected. She’s a brilliant Home Secretary’

Sir Philip Rutnam, who was the Home Office's permanent secretary, quit earlier this year, accusing Ms Patel of a 'vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign' against him and is claiming constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal.

Sir Philip Rutnam, who was the Home Office’s permanent secretary, quit earlier this year, accusing Ms Patel of a ‘vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign’ against him and is claiming constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary who made a shock return to the government after Boris Johnson won power

Priti Patel was brought back in to the heart of Government by Boris Johnson in July 2019, less than two years after she quit the Cabinet in disgrace.

The daughter of Gujarati Ugandan Asians, she picked up her Tory values and work ethic from her parents.

The right-winger and vocal Brexiteer’s maternal family was originally from Gujarat in India, before moving to Uganda in the early 20th century and prospered in business.

They moved to the UK in the 1960s, before the East African nation’s 80,000 Asian community was were expelled by the murderous dictator Idi Amin in 1972. 

Priti Patel is pictured as a baby with her mother Anjana, who along with her father Sushil initially lodged in one small room in North London while he completed his studies in engineering

Priti Patel is pictured as a baby with her mother Anjana, who along with her father Sushil initially lodged in one small room in North London while he completed his studies in engineering

Her parents, Sushil and Anjana, initially lodged in one small room in North London while he completed his studies in engineering.

Eventually, they were able to buy a small house in Harrow and used that to secure a bank loan for their first shop, a newsagent in Tottenham.

Priti and her younger sister and brother were frequently called upon to work alongside their parents in the several shops and sub-post offices they ran in Nottingham, Ipswich and Norwich.

When Priti became secondary school age, the family bought an upmarket chocolate shop in Hertfordshire where there were good state schools, including Watford Grammar where she was head girl.

She later got a degree in economics, sociology and social anthropology at Keele University and a post-graduate diploma in government and politics at Essex. 

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘Yet again, the Prime Minister has been found wanting when his leadership has been tested. If I were Prime Minister, the Home Secretary would have been removed from her job.

‘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.’  

Sir Alex said Ms Patel’s frustrations had seen her shout and swear in some instances. In his published advice, he said: ‘She is action-orientated and can be direct.

‘The Home Secretary has also become – justifiably in many instances – frustrated by the Home Office leadership’s lack of responsiveness and the lack of support she felt in DfID (the now defunct Department for International Development) three years ago.

‘The evidence is that this has manifested itself in forceful expression, including some occasions of shouting and swearing.

‘This may not be done intentionally to cause upset, but that has been the effect on some individuals.’ 

Sir Alex added: ‘My advice is that the Home Secretary has not consistently met the high standards required by the Ministerial Code of treating her civil servants with consideration and respect.

‘Her approach on occasions has amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals.

‘To that extent her behaviour has been in breach of the Ministerial Code, even if unintentionally.’

But in leaks from his report, Sir Alex laid significant criticism at the door of civil servants who worked with Ms Patel, the MP for Witham in Essex.

‘The Home Office was not as flexible as it could have been in responding to the Home Secretary’s requests and direction’ he wrote.

‘She has legitimately not always felt supported by the department. In addition, no feedback was given to the Home Secretary of the impact of her behaviour, which meant she was unaware of issues that she could have otherwise addressed.’ 

It is understood Sir Alex went on to say that Miss Patel had ‘also become justifiably in many incidences frustrated by the Home Office leadership’s lack of responsiveness and the lack of support she felt’.

He noted that there has been an improvement in the relationship between the Home Secretary and her officials in recent months. The Home Secretary has always denied wrongdoing, and sources close to her last night insisted no formal complaints were ever made. 

Matthew Rycroft, permanent secretary at the Home Office, said today that relationships between officials and ministers at the department had ‘improved considerably’ but admitted the report into the Home Secretary’s conduct made for ‘difficult reading’.

It said she would be handed a written warning by Mr Johnson but not lose her Cabinet post over its findings

It said she would be handed a written warning by Mr Johnson but not lose her Cabinet post over its findings

Top civil servant taking government to court over Priti Patel’s management of Home Office 

A senior civil servant who quit the Home Office with a broadside against Priti Patel is taking fficial legal action against her.

Sir Philip Rutnam is taking the Home Secretary and her department to an employment tribunal next year accusing her of unfair dismissal and claiming he should have been protected as a whistleblower.

His resignation in february as permanent secretary in Ms Patel’s under-pressure department sparked a furious row and an official inquiry into her behaviour in Government.

The move raises the prospect of one of the Government’s most senior ministers having to give evidence in a civil case about her handling of the department.

Sir Philip, who branded Miss Patel a liar and a bully, walked out at the end of February.

In a bombshell resignation statement, which he read live on television, he accused Miss Patel, 47, of ‘shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands’.

He accused Ms Patel of orchestrating a ‘vicious’ campaign against him, of lying about her involvement in it and of creating a climate of fear in her department. 

It prompted an avalanche of claims against Boris Johnson’s highest ranking female minister, all of which she denies.

Claims against Ms Patel include the allegation she ‘dressed down’ staff in front of their colleagues and asked: ‘Why is everyone so f***ing useless?’ 

Sir Philip was one of the most senior civil servants in Whitehall. 

He joined the Home Office as permanent secretary – the top civil servant role in each department – in April 2017 having previously done the same job at the Department for Transport for five years.

However, his time at the Home Office has proved to be controversial because he was in post during the Windrush scandal. 

He faced calls in November 2018 to resign over it with Tory London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey claiming the mandarin needed to step down to ‘restore confidence’ in the Home Office.  

Amber Rudd resigned as home secretary in April 2018 because of the controversy which saw some migrants from Commonwealth countries who came to the UK from the late 1970s to 1973 being wrongly declared illegal immigrants. 

An official report examining what went wrong found that Ms Rudd had been let down by her officials. 

However, it stopped short of criticising Sir Philip.

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He said: ‘Sir Alex Allan’s findings make difficult reading, including for the Civil Service.

‘The Home Secretary and I are committed to working together to improve the Home Office and build the strongest possible partnership between ministers and officials based on support, candour, safety to challenge, mutual respect and professionalism.

‘Relationships between ministers and officials have improved considerably.

‘Day in, day out Home Office staff work tirelessly to keep the public safe, cut crime, and improve our immigration and asylum system, and we are determined that they should do so in a supportive environment that respects their wellbeing.’

Sir Philip Rutnam, who was the Home Office’s permanent secretary, quit earlier this year, accusing Ms Patel of a ‘vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign’ against him and is claiming constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal. 

Senior Tories rallied around the Home Secretary  today as Labour and other parties called for her to be sacked.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Times Radio today she was ‘nothing but courteous’, adding: ‘The truth is she’s also absolutely determined to deliver on the priorities on which we were elected. She’s a brilliant Home Secretary.’  

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said Ms Patel was a ‘formidable Home Secretary’ and an ‘asset to Government’.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said he was ‘proud that my friend and neighbour (Priti Patel) is leading the Home Office and delivering increased police numbers and secure borders’.

‘She is delivering the first duty of government, protection of the British people,’ he tweeted. 

And senior Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said Ms Patel has support across the party because she is ‘hard working, determined and has been very kind to many’.

He wrote on Twitter: ‘She knows her own mind was a great asset to @CommonsForeign and is doing a tough job in @ukhomeoffice.’

But Labour accused Mr Johnson of presiding over a ‘cover-up’ after it emerged that a fact-finding report into her behaviour will not be made public. Instead, the Prime Minister is expected to release an assessment of its findings.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said suggestions that Mr Johnson will not sack Ms Patel showed ‘all the hallmarks of a prime ministerial cover-up’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think we need to see the full report, it needs to be published in full, line by line, and the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister need to come to Parliament to answer questions because the revelations in recent days have been extraordinarily serious.

‘I’m afraid this really does have all the hallmarks of a prime ministerial cover-up and raises questions about his judgment.

‘If what has been reported is correct, then it is tantamount to the Prime Minister condoning bullying.’

Mr Thomas-Symonds said that given the nine-month delay in finalising the investigation into Ms Patel’s conduct, he had ‘lost confidence in this process’ and said the matter should be referred to the Committee on Standards in Public Life for a ‘full investigation to take place and establish the facts’.

DailyMail Online


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