Labour demands Patel bullying inquiry be published immediately

The Canary

An inquiry into allegations that home secretary Priti Patel bullied officials must be published immediately, Labour has demanded.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds wrote to cabinet office minister Michael Gove on 11 July saying the delay in publishing the findings is “unacceptable”.

A Cabinet Office investigation was launched in March over claims that Patel belittled colleagues and clashed with senior officials in three different departments.

“The Government is acting in the interests of a Conservative Party elite”

In a letter to Gove, Thomas-Symonds said the delay “creates the clear sense that the Government is acting in the interests of a Conservative Party elite, rather than the national interest”. He said:

We have been asking frontline public servants to make extraordinary sacrifices throughout this pandemic and it is only right that they have full faith in those in Government who make demands of them…

I’ve written to the Minister for the Cabinet Office calling for the report to be published immediately, so that it can be properly considered before the recess.

Stand-off

It comes after reports in the Times of a “stand-off” between senior officials and political aides over the publication of the inquiry’s findings.

The paper said senior civil servant Helen MacNamara is refusing to exonerate Patel from some of the allegations of bullying. This despite Boris Johnson’s aides reportedly wanting to say the inquiry found no conclusive evidence.

Government promised a report over four months ago

Philip Rutnam, who was the Home Office’s permanent secretary, quit earlier this year accusing Patel of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” against him.

Patel expressed concern at the “false” claims and allies described her as a “demanding” boss but not a bully. Thomas-Symonds said:

It has been over four months since the Government promised a report into whether the Home Secretary broke the Ministerial Code.

There are now allegations of deeply inappropriate political interference in the publication of the report, both in terms of content and timing. The delay in producing it is totally unacceptable.

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