Civil service union hits out at Priti Patel for creating 'atmosphere of fear' in Home Office
A major Whitehall trade union has hit out at Priti Patel for creating an "atmosphere of fear" in the Home Office amid a bullying row.
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA - which represents senior government officials - also warned the Home Secretary against sanctioning "anonymous briefings" against her top officials.
His comments after The Times reported that Ms Patel wanted to "get rid" of her department's top mandarin, Sir Philip Rutnam, following a series of rows between the pair.
Allies of the Cabinet minister told the paper Sir Philip had let the department become "dysfunctional" and accused him of presiding over the "accidental deportations" which led to the Windrush scandal.
"It this were any other environment Philip Rutnman would not only be sacked he'd be denied a pension," they said.
But Dave Penman, the FDA's general secretary has hit out at the briefing, saying staff in the department were working "flat out" on the "wide-ranging demanding policy agenda".
He told PoliticsHome: "Putting undue pressure and demands on committed public servants that are already overstretched does not make for good government and will do this administration no favours in delivering its policy priorities.
"Ministers have to recognise the consequences of their behaviour. An atmosphere of fear is obviously not conductive to a successful workplace and anonymous briefings against civil servants who cannot answer back are not only unfair to the individual, they corrode public trust in government."
His comments come after Home Office sources accused Ms Patel of being "rude" to staff and warning the department had become "completely unsustainable and was going to blow up".
Another said: "Sir Philip and [Ms Patel] have fundamental disagreements about the rule of law. He's committed and she isn't. She's belittled him and caused consternation, and frequently encourages behaviour outside the rule of law."
A Home Office spokesperson said: "We have not received any formal complaints and we take the welfare of our staff extremely seriously".
Meanwhile, business minister Nadhim Zahawi, have leapt to Ms Patel's defence, saying she was "utterly professional" and "works day and night".
He told LBC: "I've worked with Priti in the past on several campaign. I've known her literally for 25 years. She is a brilliant, collegiate team player."