Wed, 24 July 2024

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By Tobias Ellwood
By Ben Guerin
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Boris Johnson says he is 'sticking by' Priti Patel amid bullying storm

2 min read

Boris Johnson said he was "sticking by" his embattled Home Secretary despite a wave of bullying allegations lodged against her.

Boris Johnson mounted a vocal defence of the Cabinet minister at Prime Minister's Questions after she was hit by fresh claims of bullying in a third government department.

On Saturday, the Home Office's most senior civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, made a dramatic resgination speech where he said he had recieved claims from staff of Ms Patel "swearing, belittiling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands".

The Home Secretary is already facing a probe by the Cabinet Office over the allegations.

Flanked by the Home Secretary, who has strenuously denied the claims, Mr Johnson batted away suggestions from Labour MP Matt Pennycook at Prime Minister's Questions that Ms Patel should resign if the investigation found she had breached the ministerial code.

"The Home Secretary is doing an outstanding job delivering change, putting police out on the streets, cutting crime and delivering a new immigration system. And I'm sticking by her," he said.

Labour has demanded that the Cabinet Office brings in an external lawyer to oversee the investigation into Ms Patel's conduct.

But, pressed by leader Jeremy Corbyn to launch an independent inquiry, Mr Johnson defended her "outstanding" performance in the role.

"Of course it is right that there should be an investigation into any allegations of bullying and that is what the Cabinet Office is doing, and that's what Sir Alex Allan will be doing," he told MPs.

"But I just remind [Jeremy Corbyn], since he mentions the Home Secretary, that she is keeping this country safe, by recruiting numbers of police officers. She believes in stopping the early release of offenders, and she's bringing in a system to tackle our migration crisis with an Australian style-points based system.

But Mr Corbyn hit back, saying tens of thousands of pounds had been "spaffed up the wall" by the government after it was revealed that several civil servants had been handed payouts following claims of bullying - a reference to Mr Johnson's earlier criticism of historic abuse allegations by the Crown Prosecution Service.

To roars of disapproval from the Tory benches, Mr Corbyn said: “How can the people of this country have faith in a Prime Minister who can’t be bothered to turn up, and when he does has no shame in defending bullying in his own government?”


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