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Labour demands transparency on Patel bullying inquiry

Wednesday, 29 April 2020 2:53 PM  [ Last Update: Wednesday, 29 April 2020 2:54 PM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Apart from allegations of bullying Priti Patel has had to contend with accusations that she has been conspicuous by her absence during the coronavirus crisis

The opposition Labour party has called on the government to release the findings of an inquiry established to investigate allegations of bullying and broader inappropriate behavior by Home Secretary, Priti Patel.

The inquiry was set up in early March after Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, asked the Cabinet Office to ascertain whether or not Patel had breached the ministerial code following complaints by Home Office personnel.

In late February Patel was accused of creating an “atmosphere of fear” inside the Home Office and of trying to “force out” the department’s then Permanent Secretary, Sir Philip Rutnam.

Rutnam – who was the Home Office’s top civil servant – resigned in dramatic and tearful fashion on the BBC where he accused Patel of conducting a “vicious and orchestrated” briefing campaign against him.

Rutnam has lodged a separate complaint against Patel at the employment tribunal and that case is believed to be ongoing.

However, the Cabinet Office inquiry into complaints of bullying by Patel has been completed but its findings have not been made public.

For her part, Patel, who was interviewed by the inquiry team, has strenuously denied allegations of bullying and inappropriate behaviour.  

Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds and the shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rachel Reeves, have written to the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, demanding accountability and transparency on the inquiry.  

Referencing the coronavirus crisis, they wrote: “At a time when additional powers are being assumed by the government, the imperative that the public are completely assured of the conduct of senior ministers is even greater … As a result we are calling on you to ensure that the findings of the inquiry are published as soon as possible”.

Despite Labour’s call for accountability and transparency, it is widely expected that Patel will be cleared by the inquiry, not least because she enjoys strong backing both from the PM and Gove.

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