Boris Johnson has told officials today that there is “no place for bullying” in government in a bid to calm tensions after a report found Priti Patel had bullied civil servants.
Johnson wrote to cabinet ministers and top civil servants today to say ministers had a “duty” to stop bullying, while also stressing the importance of keeping “internal conversations private”.
Sir Alex Allan, the man who led the inquiry into Patel’s behaviour, quit his role as the Prime Minister’s standards adviser last week when Johnson did not sack the home secretary.
The Prime Minister also reportedly tried to tone down the independent report.
Allan found Patel had “not consistently met the high standards required by the Ministerial Code” and that her “approach on occasions has amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying”.
This is a breach of the Ministerial Code.
The home secretary gave an apology of sorts for her actions, saying she was sorry if civil servants were offended by her actions and that any bullying was unintentional.
Johnson reportedly told MPs last week that they needed to protect the home secretary by forming “a square around the Prittster”.
Reuters reports that Johnson today told ministers: “Given the unprecedented challenges we currently face as a nation, relationships of mutual trust and respect between politicians and their officials are paramount. This includes keeping internal conversations private,” he wrote in the letter.
“There is a particular duty on ministers and permanent secretaries to create jointly across government a culture which is professional, respectful, focused and ambitious for change in which there is no place for bullying.”
The Patel report was launched after Philip Rutnam, then permanent secretary of the Home Office, was forced from his job in February and annnounced he was suing the government for unfair dismissal.
Rutnam said Patel had helped wage a “vicious and orchestrated campaign” against him through a series of Fleet Street leaks.
The inquiry was held up by Downing Street for months, according to former cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill.