The report found the Home Secretary broke the Ministerial Code "even if unintentionally" (Image: UK PARLIAMENT/AFP via Getty Imag)
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A report which Boris Johnson sat on for months has found Priti Patel "shouted and swore" at staff in actions "that can be described as bullying".
The long-awaited report by the Prime Minister's adviser on Ministerial Standards, Sir Alex Allan, found the Home Secretary broke the Ministerial Code "even if unintentionally".
Yet Sir Alex has now resigned after Boris Johnson unilaterally overturned his findings, decided Ms Patel didn't break the Code and refused to sack her.
No10 has released just a one-and-a-half page summary of the report Sir Alex launched back in Spring.
Downing Street is refusing to publish the full report in a move Labour has branded a "prime ministerial cover-up".
So what does the bit we do know about say – and what have the PM and Keir Starmer said in return? Here are the full statements.
Watchdog resigns after 'bullying' Priti Patel keeps job despite breaching code
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Public findings from the Priti Patel report in full
The Ministerial Code says “Ministers should be professional in their working relationships with the Civil Service and treat all those with whom they come into contact with consideration and respect.”
I believe Civil Servants – particularly Senior Civil Servants – should be expected to handle robust criticism but should not have to face behaviour that goes beyond that.
The Home Secretary says that she puts great store by professional, open relationships. She is action orientated and can be direct.
The Home Secretary has also become – justifiably in many instances – frustrated by the Home Office leadership’s lack of responsiveness and the lack of support she felt in DfID three years ago.
There were occasions of 'shouting and swearing'
The evidence is that this has manifested itself in forceful expression, including some occasions of shouting and swearing.
This may not be done intentionally to cause upset, but that has been the effect on some individuals.
The Ministerial Code says that “Harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place is not consistent with theMinisterial Code.
Definitions of harassment concern comments or actions relating to personal characteristics and there is no evidence from the Cabinet Office’s work of any such behaviour by the Home Secretary.
The definition of bullying adopted by the Civil Service accepts that legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of a worker’s performance will not amount to bullying.
It defines bullying as intimidating or insulting behaviour that makes an individual feel uncomfortable, frightened, less respected or put down.
The advisor found Ms Patel broke the Ministerial Code
Instances of the behaviour reported to the Cabinet Office would meet such a definition.
The Civil Service itself needs to reflect on its role during this period. The Home Office was not as flexible as it could have been in responding to the Home Secretary’s requests and direction.
She has – legitimately – not always felt supported by the department.
In addition, no feedback was given to the Home Secretary of the impact of her behaviour, which meant she was unaware of issues that she could otherwise have addressed.
My advice is that the Home Secretary has 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.
To that extent her behaviour has been in breach of the Ministerial Code, even if unintentionally. This conclusion needs to be seen in context.
There is no evidence that she was aware of the impact of her behaviour, and no feedback was given to her at the time.
The high pressure and demands of the role, in the Home Office, coupled with the need for more supportive leadership from top of the department has clearly been a contributory factor.
In particular, I note the finding of different and more positive behaviour since these issues were raised with her.
Boris Johnson's refusal to sack her in full
Boris Johnson has refused to sack Ms Patel
The Prime Minister has taken advice from his Independent Adviser, Sir Alex Allan, in relation to the allegations made earlier this year around the Home Secretary’s conduct. The Prime Minister takes this issue very seriously and recognises that it is always difficult for individuals to come forward and raise concerns and is grateful to those who have done so. The Prime Minister is grateful to Sir Alex for his advice and has considered his conclusions carefully.
It was clear from Sir Alex’s advice that at times there have been difficult working relationships all round. Sir Alex’s advice found that the Home Secretary had become – justifiably in many instances – frustrated by the Home Office leadership’s lack of responsiveness and the lack of support she felt in DfID three years ago. He also found, however, that the Home Secretary had not always treated her civil servants with the consideration and respect that would be expected, and her approach on occasion has amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals.
He went on to advise, therefore, that the Home Secretary had not consistently met the high standards expected of her under the Ministerial Code.
The Prime Minister notes Sir Alex’s advice that many of the concerns now raised were not raised at the time and that the Home Secretary was unaware of the impact that she had. He is reassured that the Home Secretary is sorry for inadvertently upsetting those with whom she was working. He is also reassured that relationships, practices and culture in the Home Office are much improved. As the arbiter of the code, having considered Sir Alex’s advice and weighing up all the factors, the Prime Minister’s judgement is that the Ministerial Code was not breached.
The Prime Minister has full confidence in the Home Secretary and considers this matter now closed. He is grateful to the thousands of civil servants working extremely hard to support delivery of the Government’s priorities.
What claims did Priti Patel face?
Ms Patel had previously faced allegations concerning her time at three separate government departments – the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions and Department for International Development.
Claims began at the Home Office where her most senior civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, resigned and vowed to sue for constructive dismissal.
Mr Rutnam said in his resignation statement: "I have received allegations that her conduct has included shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands – behaviour that created fear and that needed some bravery to call out.”
It later emerged a DWP staffer, who allegedly took an overdose following an interaction with Ms Patel as Employment Minister, was given a £25,000 payout.
A third claim then emerged, this time at DFID when she was aid minister. Reported by the BBC, Sun and Times, it was claimed she "repeatedly harassed and belittled" her private secretary so badly that he signed off with stress.
But it was never made clear by the government which of these allegations, aired in the media and strongly denied by Ms Patel, were looked at by the Cabinet Office or in what detail.
Priti Patel's apology in full
“I am sorry that my behaviour in the past has upset people. It has never been my intention to cause upset to anyone. I am very grateful for the hard work of thousands of civil servants who help to deliver the Government’s agenda.
“I care deeply about delivering on the commitments we have made to the people of this country and I acknowledge that I am direct and have at times got frustrated.
“I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his support. The Permanent Secretary and I are working closely together to deliver on the vital job the Home Office has to do for the country.”
Keir Starmer's response in full
"Yet again, the Prime Minister has been found wanting when his leadership has been tested. If I were Prime Minister, the Home Secretary would have been removed from her job.
"It is hard to imagine another workplace in the UK where this behaviour would be condoned by those at the top. The Government should be setting an example. Instead, it is one rule for Boris Johnson and his friends, another for everyone else.
"The Prime Minister has previously said he ‘loathes bullying’. Yet when one of his own ministers is found to have bullied their staff he ignores the damning report sat on his desk and instead protects them.
"In the interests of transparency, the report into Priti Patel’s conduct and any drafts should now be fully published and the Prime Minister and Home Secretary should come to the House on Monday to face questions on their conduct."