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Wed, 28 October 2020

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By Lord Morris
Home affairs
Home affairs
Press releases

Labour demands ‘immediate’ publication of Priti Patel bullying probe amid ‘political interference’ claims

Labour demands ‘immediate’ publication of Priti Patel bullying probe amid ‘political interference’ claims

Labour wants the report into the Home Secretary’s conduct ‘published immediately for it to be properly considered before recess begins’ (PA)

2 min read

Labour is demanding the “immediate” publication of a report into whether Home Secretary Priti Patel bullied staff.

The opposition party has called on the Cabinet Office to make public the findings of its inquiry into whether Ms Patel broke the ministerial code amid a major row over the treatment of Home Office officials.

Ms Patel is being investigated 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 also accused Ms Patel of failing to "disassociate herself" from media attacks on him, and of bullying senior staff in the department.

The Home Secretary has rejected "all allegations" made against her, but an internal investigation led by the Cabinet Office was launched to determine whether Ms Patel had breached the ministerial code.

Media reports in April suggested Ms Patel had been cleared by the inquiry, but no updates have been provided by Number 10 since then despite daily queries.

On Saturday The Times reported on tensions between ministers and officials over the inquiry’s findings, with one source saying publication of the report was likely to be delayed until the last sitting day of Parliament to ease the pressure on the Home Secretary.

In a letter to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, Labour frontbenchers Rachel Reeves and Nick Thomas-Symonds warned against “attempts to politically interfere in the process” and called for the report to be “published immediately for it to be properly considered before recess begins”.

And they said: “It has been over four months since the Government promised a report into whether the Home Secretary broke the Ministerial Code. There are now allegations of deeply inappropriate political interference in the publication of the report, both in terms of content and timing. The delay in producing it is totally unacceptable.
 
“Yet again the Government is acting in the interests of a Conservative Party elite, rather than the national interest.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “The prime minister asked the Cabinet Office to establish the facts of the case, in line with the ministerial code. That process is ongoing and we will respond to the letter in due course.”

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