Priti Patel due to be cleared of bullying accusations


Home secretary Priti Patel is likely to be cleared of accusations she bullied senior civil servants in three government departments, according to reports.

Patel had been accused of mistreating civil servants in the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions and Department for International Trade.

Separately, she faces an employment tribunal after her former permanent secretary, Sir Philip Rutnam, used whistleblowing laws to accuse her of constructive dismissal.

Sources in Whitehall, according to a number of newspapers, have suggested that the home secretary will be cleared of the bullying accusations as there is not enough evidence to require her resignation.

The inquiry process has also drawn criticism from civil service union leaders about levels of transparency, with calls to make such inquiries and their findings public.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the First Division Association, which represents senior civil servants, said such investigations needed to be independent and “free from political influence”.

The investigation is being carried out by cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, Cabinet Office official Helen McNamara and Sir Alex Allan, the senior civil servant who oversees ministerial behaviour.

Penman 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.”

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds and Rachel Reeves, shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, last week wrote to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to ask for an update on the progress of the inquiry into Patel’s behaviour. They have received no reply.

The Daily Telegraph claims that official clearance for Patel will happen today, but other sources suggest the inquiry is “ongoing”.

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