Priti Patel 'demands leak inquiry' over 'hostile' briefings against her by Home Office officials
Priti Patel has ordered a leak inquiry into a number of “hostile briefings” accusing her of bullying officials and losing the trust of MI5 on security issues.
The Home Secretary is said to be “absolutely livid” amid a war of words with her department amid claims she tried to oust its most senior civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam.
It was reported at the weekend that intelligence officers had reduced the amount of sensitive information they passed to her because they “do not trust” her, and regularly “roll their eyes” at her interventions in meetings.
Ms Patel has also been accused of creating an "atmosphere of fear" in the Home Office, claims she has strenuously denied.
A spokesperson for the Home Secretary said she and Sir Philip were "deeply concerned about the number of false allegations appearing in the media" about goings-on in the Home Office.
"They are focused on delivering on the Home Office's hugely important agenda, which includes creating an immigration system that works for the UK, putting more police on the streets and keeping the public safe from terrorism," the spokesperson added.
An ally of Ms Patel told The Times: “Priti is absolutely livid. The blob is trying to kill her. She’s determined to get to the bottom of it.”
The newspaper says the Cabinet minister has asked Helen MacNamara, director of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office, to conduct a leak inquiry to establish who is briefing against her.
But sources at the department were adamant no such request had been received.
The security services also moved to quash the allegations against Ms Patel, with a source responding: “Reports suggesting that the Home Secretary and MI5 do not have a strong working relationship are simply untrue.
“The Home Secretary is briefed daily on intelligence matters in exactly the same way as any previous postholder. No information is being withheld.
“Any report suggesting otherwise is simply wrong and does not serve the public interest.”