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FDA Union Loses High Court Challenge of Priti Patel Bullying Allegations

2 min read

The High Court has ruled against a union that challenged Boris Johnson's decision to back Priti Patel over civil service bullying claims.

The ruling comes after the FDA trade union, which represents civil servants, brought a judicial review into the Prime Minister’s decision to stand by the Home Secretary amid findings that she had breached ministerial code.

Last year Alex Allan, the Prime Minister’s former independent advisor on ministerial standards, found Patel had broken the ministerial code by bullying civil servants. Patel denies the allegations. 

In bringing forward the judicial review, the FDA argued that Johnson’s interpretation of the ministerial code, and subsequent decision to pardon Patel, was based on a “misinterpretation” of the term “bullying".

The High Court today ruled that the Prime Minister “properly interpreted the word ‘bullying’ when dealing with the allegations”.

In its judgement the court stated that “read in full and in context, the (government) statement does not demonstrate that paragraph 1.2 of the Ministerial Code was misinterpreted in the way suggested by the claimant”.

Following an inquiry, in 2020 Allan concluded that the Home Secretary’s behaviour towards civil servants “on occasions can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals”.

“The Home Secretary has not consistently met the high standards required by the Ministerial Code of treating her civil servants with consideration and respect,” Allan stated.

Patel was accused of swearing and shouting at Home Office staff. Her former permanent secretary Phillip Rutman also alleged that she subjected him to a “vicious and orchestrated campaign” after he raised concerns about the treatment of civil servants.

Despite Allan’s findings Johnson stood by Patel, stating the Home Secretary was “unaware” of the negative impact her management style was having.

Johnson claimed Patel was “sorry for inadvertently upsetting those with whom she was working”, and as arbiter of the ministerial code determined that in this instance, it had not been breached.

Allan resigned from his role in Downing Street following the Prime Minister’s decision to back Patel.

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