No10 say ‘Prittster’ Priti Patel needs support on ‘testing day’ despite damning bullying report

Ms Patel is facing a ‘testing’ day No10 insists (Image: REUTERS)

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Boris Johnson has urged Tory MPs to "form a square around the prittster" after Priti Patel was found to have "shouted and swore" at staff in behaviour "that can be described as bullying".

The Home Secretary apologised today after the damning inquiry found she broke the Ministerial Code of ethics.

But the PM Johnson 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".

In a bizarrely worded message to MPs he then ordered her Tory colleagues to rally around her.

His message read: "Time to form a square around the prittster".

Asked what the PM's potentially stationary themed message meant, his Press Secretary Allegra Stratton told reporters that it was the PM asking colleagues to support her on a "testing day".

She said: He said it to recognise that today she is coming forward with a full and frank apology.

"He wanted her parliamentary colleagues to support her on what will be a testing day for her."

Ms Patel broke cover this morning
(Image: Daily Mirror/Ian Vogler)

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Ms Stratton added that Mr Johnson "loathes bullying" and "would encourage companies and organisations up and down the land to take these things very seriously"

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.

“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".

Boris Johnson called on colleagues to support Ms Patel
(Image: REUTERS)

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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

"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."

Keir Starmer insisted that the report be published in full
(Image: JESSICA TAYLOR/UK PARLIAMENT HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

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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."

"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."

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