Priti Patel 'bullying' probe 'finds no smoking gun' as Labour demand its release

The official investigation into claims that Priti Patel bullied members of Home Office staff has not found any “smoking gun”, The Mirror has been told.

Government insiders suggested that Ms Patel, who also faced allegations that she bullied staff at the Department for Work & Pensions and International Development, would effectively be cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, they believe the Home Secretary could be told that she should have followed better procedures and asked to apologise to staff for any hurt feelings.

Ms Patel has always strenuously denied any allegations of bullying, and one ally accused “dark forces” in the civil service of trying to undermine her.

The Cabinet Office review of the facts, ordered by Boris Johnson, has now been handed to Sir Alex Allan, the watchdog for ministers’ behaviour.

There are questions over whether the review into her behaviour will be published

The top civil servant will recommend to the Prime Minister whether Ms Patel has breached the ministerial code.

Mr Johnson would then – depending on the findings – decide whether she should face any sanction over her alleged behaviour.

The Telegraph has reported that the review had found “no evidence” to support the allegations that she had bullied staff while a minister in the three departments. 

But officials played down suggestions the findings were due to be published today – indicating it was more likely to come later this week.

However, a separate source said the report could be delayed even further as the coronavirus outbreak continues to dominate the Government’s attention. 

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“It seems to have been ready for a while but has already been delayed by Covid and then by the PM being off,” they said.

Labour  today demanded that the results of the investigation are made public as soon as possible.

In a letter to Michael Gove, Labour frontbenchers Nick Thomas-Symonds and Rachel Reeves, said: “We appreciate that the country is dealing with an unprecedented challenge in response to the Coronavirus and the Prime Minister’s illness, in respect of which we wish him a swift recovery.

“However, it is absolutely vital that the findings of the inquiry are made public as soon as possible.

“At a time when additional powers are being assumed by the government, the imperative that the public are completely assured of the conduct of senior Ministers is even greater.”

Sir Philip Rutnam, the former top civil servant at the Home Office, formally launched his legal action against Ms Patel

Last week Sir Philip Rutnam, the former top civil servant at the Home Office, formally launched his legal action against Ms Patel claiming constructive dismissal.

He dramatically quit in February, accusing Ms Patel of bullying staff and claiming he had been the victim of a “vicious and orchestrated” briefing campaign.

The PM publicly defended the Home Secretary – who was forced to quit the Cabinet in 2017 after breaking the ministerial code – saying he would “stick with Priti”.



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