Boris Johnson rules Priti Patel did not breach ministerial code over bullying allegations

Boris Johnson has ruled that Priti Patel did not breach the ministerial code following an inquiry into bullying accusations against her.

However, the prime minister’s ruling was immediately followed by the resignation of Sir Alex Allan, the government’s independent adviser on standards, who authored the report.

He said: “I recognise that it is for the prime minister to make a judgement on whether actions by a minister amount to a breach of the ministerial code.

“But I feel that it is right that I should now resign from my position as the prime minister’s independent adviser on the code.”

In his report, Sir Alex found that Ms Patel had “not consistently met the high standards required by the ministerial code of treating her civil servants with consideration and respect”.

“Her approach on occasions has amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals,” he added.

“To that extent her behaviour has been in breach of the ministerial code, even if unintentionally.”

A government source said Sir Alex resigned because the prime minister ignored his advice.

Mr Johnson said he had full confidence in Ms Patel and “considers this matter now closed”.

The conclusions follow an eight-month wait for the results of an inquiry into the home secretary’s behaviour, with the prime minister accused of having sat on the report since the summer.

An investigation into bullying allegations against Ms Patel was launched in March, with the Cabinet Office asked by the prime minister to “establish the facts” over whether the home secretary breached the ministerial code.

It followed the dramatic resignation of the Home Office’s most senior civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, amid widespread reports of a bitter feud between himself and Ms Patel.

At the time, Sir Philip revealed he had received allegations of Ms Patel “shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands”, and argued her behaviour had “created fear”.

His departure as the Home Office’s permanent secretary is still the subject of an employment tribunal, with Sir Philip pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal from the £175,000 per year role.

Around the same time as Sir Philip’s exit, further allegations about Ms Patel’s behaviour in government also emerged, which prompted the Cabinet Office review.

There were claims a senior Home Office official once collapsed after being confronted by Ms Patel, following an unsuccessful all-night effort to reverse a High Court ruling.

It was also reported that an official in the Department for Work and Pensions received a £25,000 payout after making bullying claims during Ms Patel’s time as an employment minister.

There were also claims about Ms Patel’s behaviour towards staff during her later spell as international development secretary.

Ms Patel rejected all of the allegations against her, while the home secretary’s supporters claimed she had been the victim of a Westminster smear campaign.

The prime minister had vowed to “stick with Prit”.

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