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Review Of Boris Johnson’s Decision That Priti Patel Did Not Break Rules Over “Bullying” Can Go Ahead, Court Rules

Boris Johnson's decision to rule Priti Patel had not broken the ministerial code can now be challenged in court (Alamy)

2 min read

The High Court has ruled a judicial review can be launched into the decision by Boris Johnson not to sanction Priti Patel over alleged “bullying” of staff.

The Prime Minister rejected the findings of a report by his standards adviser which said the home secretary had "unintentionally" broken the ministerial code, and kept her in post.

Patel has always denied the claims. 

But the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, argued he had “erred" and are seeking to challenge the matter in court.

At today’s hearing they were granted permission to launch a full judicial review, despite being challenged by the government.

The union’s general secretary, Dave Penman, said: “The ministerial code is the only means by which civil servants can raise complaints against the conduct of ministers and it is vital that decisions on this are subject to the rule of law.

“Ministers should be held to the same standards of conduct as civil servants.

“We welcome the opportunity now granted to argue that point fully that the prime minister erred in his interpretation of the ministerial code when deciding that the home secretary did not break the code.”

Current rules mean the PM has the final say on whether the ministerial code has been broken, which allowed him to decide Patel had not done so.

But the report last November by the independent adviser of ministerial standards, Sir Alex Allan, said her approach to staff had "on occasions... amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt" by individuals.

Johnson rejected the claim she was a “bully” and said there had been "mitigating" circumstances, and has since repeatedly said he has full confidence in the senior Cabinet minister.

Allan later resigned, and his replacement has still not been found five months later.

Last month Patel reached an unspecified six-figure settlement with the former senior civil servant who said he was forced out of his job at the height of the bullying row.

Sir Philip Rutnam dramatically resigned as the home office permanent secretary last February and later submitted an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal. 

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