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Patel ‘unlikely to be sacked’ for breaking ministerial code over bullying claims – sources

Written by on 19 November 2020

A report into allegations Priti Patel bullied staff has found she broke the ministerial code – but the home secretary is unlikely to be sacked, sources have told Sky News.

The report is said to have concluded some of the senior cabinet minister’s behaviour was unintentional.

It is due to be published imminently but is understood to have been held up by a row over whether the senior cabinet minister should be forced to apologise.

Labour claimed the news had “all the hallmarks of a cover-up”.

The inquiry into Ms Patel was launched nine months ago – triggered by the departure of senior Home Office civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam.

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Philip Rutnam: ‘I don’t believe Priti Patel’

He claimed Ms Patel “created fear” among staff and subsequently took his allegations – which were denied by the home secretary – to a tribunal.

Sources with knowledge of the situation told Sky News that Ms Patel is unlikely to be sacked but could be asked to apologise and be issued with a formal warning.

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However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Office officials are understood to be unable to agree a timetable to publish the conclusions because of a disagreement about the apology.

Sky News understands that some of those close to Ms Patel do not feel comfortable with her issuing an apology because they say her behaviour was unintentional and not deliberately intended to cause upset.

There are also claims that Ms Patel was subject to inappropriate treatment herself by other members of staff.

Earlier, the Financial Times reported that the Mr Johnson intends to “fudge” the outcome of the report and not demand Ms Patel leave her post as home secretary.

Boris Johnson conducts PMQs remotely for the first time
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Boris Johnson has the final say on what action will be taken

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds MP said: “These revelations could not be more serious. This has all the hallmarks of a cover-up from the prime minister and raises fundamental questions about his judgement.

“His actions are all but condoning bullying in the workplace.

“In any other area of life this would not be acceptable. Yet again, it seems to be one rule for them and another for everyone else.

“The report needs to be published in full immediately and both the prime minister and home secretary must come before parliament to answer questions on this mess.”

Mr Johnson is understood to have had the report for some time after it was completed earlier this year.

Civil servants collected evidence for the investigation which was then passed to Sir Alex Allan – the government’s independent advisor on standards.

The final decision on what action to take falls to the prime minister.