Sat, 22 June 2024

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Labour demands publication of Priti Patel bullying report ‘as soon as possible’

The Home Secretary has been investigated by the Cabinet Office.

2 min read

Labour is demanding that the findings of a Whitehall probe into whether Priti Patel broke the ministerial code be made public “as soon as possible”, amid reports the Home Secretary has been cleared.

Ms Patel, who will appear before MPs on the Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, is being investigated by the Cabinet Office following the dramatic resignation of her most senior official, Sir Philip Rutnam.

Sir Philip, who has lodged an employment tribunal claim against Ms Patel, quit in February, alleging that he had been the victim of "a vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign" by allies of the Home Secretary.

The veteran mandarin accused Ms Patel of failing to "disassociate herself" from media attacks on him, and of bullying senior staff in the department.

The senior minister has rejected "all allegations" made against her, but Boris Johnson ordered a separate internal investigation led by the Cabinet Office to determine whether Ms Patel had breched the ministerial code.

The Telegraph reported on Tuesday that Ms Patel has been cleared of bullying her staff, with a Whitehall source saying: “They trawled through lots of material but found no evidence.”

Labour wrote to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove last week demanding the publication of the inquiry’s findings “as soon as possible”, the BBC reports.

Mr Gove’s opposite number Rachel Reeves, as well as Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, said: "At a time when additional powers are being assumed by the government, the imperative that the public are completely assured of the conduct of senior ministers is even greater.”

The pair added: "As a result we are calling on you to ensure that the findings of the inquiry are published as soon as possible."

Dave Penman, whose civil service union the FDA is representing Sir Philip in his employment tribunal claim, hit out at the Cabinet Office process in the wake of reports Ms Patel will be exonerated.

The FDA general secretary said: “It tells you everything that is wrong with investigations under the ministerial code that a process which is not written down, which contains no rights for those who might complain, that is determined in secret, alone by a prime minister who has already pledged his allegiance to the minister in advance, and which allows no right to transparency or challenge for anyone who complained, would then be leaked on the evening before the home secretary is due to appear before the home affairs select committee.”

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