Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to set out his decision later on the findings of an inquiry into the conduct of Home Secretary Priti Patel. Sources familiar with the Cabinet Office report told the BBC it concluded Ms Patel broke rules on ministers’ behaviour. She has always strongly denied allegations of bullying.
Labour has written to the Commons standards committee calling for a fresh investigation. Normally if a minister breaches the code they are expected to resign. But a number of Tory MPs have rallied to Ms Patel’s side, describing her as a determined person doing a tough job.
Mr Johnson has backed Ms Patel so far and BBC political correspondent Jessica Parker said there was “little sign” that would change. The inquiry was launched after Home Office Boss Sir Philip Rutnam resigned in February. Sir Philip – who is suing for constructive dismissal – alleged staff felt that Ms Patel had “created fear”.
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The report, carried out by the government’s independent adviser on standards, Sir Alex Allan, has not been published. But one source said it had concluded that the “home secretary had not met the requirements of the ministerial code to treat civil servants with consideration and respect”. They added that the investigation had found evidence of bullying, even if it had not been intentional. Another source who saw the report called it “unambiguous in stating that Priti Patel broke the ministerial code and that the prime minister buried it”. A spokesman for the home secretary said she had always denied the allegations and that there had never been any formal complaints made against her. It’s a government document setting out “expected standards” of behaviour in office, which include “consideration and respect” for civil servants and other colleagues.