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Former aide to Priti Patel 'took overdose after claiming she was bullied by minister'

2 min read

A former aide to Priti Patel took an overdose and received a five-figure payout from the Department for Work and Pensions after alleging that she was bullied by her, it has emerged.

The BBC reports that the £25,000 settlement was reached in 2017 after the member of staff threatened to bring a legal claim of bullying, harassment and discrimination against the department. 

And the broadcaster cites legal correspondence which says the member of staff attempted to take her own life following an altercation with Ms Patel.

The Home Secretary - who is now the subject of a Cabinet Office investigation following the resignation of her department's top official Sir Philip Rutnam - has rejected "all allegations" made against her.

The complainant in the 2015 case is said to have alleged that Ms Patel, then an employment minister at the DWP, shouted at her in her private office, telling her to "get lost" and "get out of her face". 

According to the woman's formal grievance complaint, Ms Patel is said to have have acted "without warning" and with an "unprovoked level of aggression".

The member of staff then allegedly took an overdose of prescription medication in her office, before taking a further overdose at home, requiring her to be rushed to hospital. 

A spokesperson for the Home Secretary said: "The Home Secretary completely rejects all allegations made against her."

The DWP did not admit liability over the 2015 incident, and the case was settled before coming to a tribunal.

The latest claim about Ms Patel's conduct comes after the Cabinet Office launched an investigation into whether she breached the ministerial code in her role as Home Secretary.

Ms Patel's permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam dramatically resigned this weekend, saying he had been the victim of "a vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign" by allies of the Home Secretary.

He also claimed that Ms Patel had shouted and sworn at her staff, and accused her of failing to "disassociate herself" from attacks on him.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told MPs that the Home Secretary would now be the subject of a Whitehall inquiry, but confirmed that Boris Johnson had “full confidence” in the “superb” Ms Patel - and said she “absolutely rejects” the claims lodged against her.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has backed a call from the FDA union for an external lawyer to be brought in to probe the claims, saying it was “not enough just to refer this to the Cabinet Office”

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