Fri, 24 May 2024

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The House Live All
By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
Press releases

Boris Johnson Has Warned Ministers and Mandarins To "Respect" Each Other After The Priti Patel Bullying Row

2 min read

Boris Johnson has written to all ministers and permanent secretaries to remind them to be respectful and constructive towards each other just days after Home Secretary Priti Patel was found to have shouted and sworn at staff.

Patel was investigated over allegations of bullying behavoiur by the government's ministerial standards adviser, Sir Alex Allen, during her time at the Home Office, Department for International Development and Department for Work and Pensions.  

While Sir Alex found her behaviour had not met the ministerial code's standards after a nine-month-probe, the Prime Minister overruled him. As the ultimate arbiter of the code, Johnson said there had been no breach, her behaviour had not meant to upset anyone and he was sticking by her. Sir Allen quit his role the same day. 

The letter released today by the Prime Minister stresses the need for better relations between ministers and civil servants, and comes after his team stressed how much he personally loathes bullying. 

"Given the unprecedented challenges we currently face as a nation, relationships of mutual trust and resepct between politicians and their officials are paramount," he wrote in his letter.

"This includes keeping internal conversations private. We should all feel able to speak constructively and things that are not working, so we can fix them together promptly.

"There is a particular duty on Ministers and Permanent Secretaries to create jointly across government a culture which is a professional, respectful, focused and ambitious for change and in which there is no place for bullying."

Dozens of Tory MPs Tweeted in support of Patel after the PM messaged them a message to say they needed to "form a square round the Pritster". 

There were suggestions in Sir Alex's report that Patel had been unaware that people were unhappy with her behaviour and its impact on them. 

Patel said that she was sorry she had upset people unintentionally. 

Johnson finished his letter by saying it had never been so important to work as "one team". 

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