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Chaos erupted in Westminster today after an official report found Priti Patel "shouted and swore" at staff in behaviour "that can be described as bullying".

The Home Secretary apologised today after a long-awaited Cabinet Office inquiry found she broke the Ministerial Code of ethics.

Yet Boris Johnson sensationally overruled the inquiry and decided he didn't believe Ms Patel broke the Ministerial Code – despite writing in it himself that "there must be no bullying".

That means she will keep her job despite the finding of bullying. And Tory MPs have already rallied round her, telling a WhatsApp group: "Time to form a square around the prittster".

The civil servant who led the inquiry resigned instantly after the PM's shock decision, which came at the end of Anti-Bullying Week.

Sir Alex Allan said in a statement: “I recognise that it is for the Prime Minister to make a judgment on whether actions by a minister amount to a breach of the ministerial code.

Priti Patel arriving for work this morning as she awaited the findings of the report
(Image: Daily Mirror/Ian Vogler)

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“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.”

After months of delay, No10 today finally 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".

Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded the full report is published urgently and the PM and Ms Patel "face questions on their conduct" on Monday in the Commons.

"If I were Prime Minister, the Home Secretary would have been removed from her job," Sir Keir said. "It is hard to imagine another workplace in the UK where this behaviour would be condoned by those at the top.

Boris Johnson has sensationally overturned the findings of his own ethics advisor
(Image: REUTERS)

"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 interest 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."

In his damning summary, Sir Alex said the Home Secretary was often "justifiably frustrated" after feeling a "lack of support", but that "manifested itself in forceful expression, including some occasions of shouting and swearing."

Keir Starmer demanded the full report is published urgently and the PM and Ms Patel "face questions on their conduct"
(Image: via REUTERS)

"This may not be done intentionally to cause upset, but that has been the effect on some individuals," he wrote.

He concluded: "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."

A damning inquiry found the Home Secretary 'shouted and swore' at staff
(Image: UK PARLIAMENT/AFP via Getty Imag)

It is the second time in three years that Ms Patel has been accused of breaking the Code. The first time she resigned.

Ms Patel, who has always strongly denied allegations of bullying, said today: "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."

Yet the government confirmed Boris Johnson would overrule his own ethics advisor and would not sack Ms Patel.

Boris Johnson overruled his own ethics advisor and would not sack Ms Patel
(Image: NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)

A government statement said: "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."

Boris Johnson was accused of sitting for months on the Cabinet Office report investigating bullying claims against his Home Secretary.

Lord Mark Sedwill, who was Cabinet Secretary, confirmed the high-profile report had been with the PM since before he left his post in September.

Before the report's release, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the PM's failure to sack Ms Patel showed "all the hallmarks of a prime ministerial cover-up".

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The Labour MP told the BBC: "I think we need to see the full report.

“It needs to be published in full, line by line and the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister need to come to Parliament to answer questions.

“Because the revelation in recent days have been extraordinarily serious. I'm afraid this really does have all the hallmarks of a prime ministerial cover-up and raises questions about his judgment."

He said the matter should be referred to the Committee on Standards in Public Life for a "full investigation to take place and establish the facts".

Nick Thomas-Symonds said the PM's failure to sack Ms Patel showed "all the hallmarks of a prime ministerial cover-up".

People who break the Ministerial Code would normally expect to resign or be sacked.

In the foreword to the Code, Boris Johnson wrote: “There must be no bullying and no harassment.”

Ms Patel herself resigned as a Cabinet minister in 2017 over claims of a string of off-the-books meetings with Israeli officials that broke the Code.

Yet reports Mr Johnson – who declared he’d “stick with Prit” in March – did not sack her because her behaviour was not intentional.

And Tory MPs rallied behind Ms Patel this morning before any findings were formally published.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast he felt "very proud" to serve in a Cabinet with Ms Patel.

"I think she's doing an excellent job and is an excellent Home Secretary and really delivering on things that matter to people," he said.

"In all the dealings I've ever had with her she's been nothing but courteous."

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said he was "proud that my friend and neighbour is leading the Home Office and delivering increased police numbers and secure borders".

"She is delivering the first duty of government, protection of the British people," he tweeted.

And senior Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said Ms Patel has support across the party because she is "hard working, determined and has been very kind to many".

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He wrote on Twitter : "She knows her own mind was a great asset to CommonsForeign and is doing a tough job in ukhomeoffice."

Dave Penman, general secretary of senior civil servants' union the FDA, said the PM had undermined confidence in the process by taking a side in advance.

He said: "As Prime Minister, he is the sole arbiter of the ministerial code but he is also Minister for the Civil Service.

"Having pledged his support for the Home Secretary when the investigation began, and now sat on the report since the summer, he has already undermined confidence in this being a fair and impartial process."

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.

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.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman stonewalled almost daily questions from the media since the summer about the progress of the report.

Official findings on Priti Patel 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 – particularlySenior 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.

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.

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.