Boris Johnson ‘creates culture of fear’ after letting Priti Patel off the hook

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by bully Priti Patel (Image: Getty)

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Boris Johnson was yesterday accused of establishing a “culture of fear” in Whitehall by backing Priti Patel after an investigation found she had bullied her staff.

Civil servants were pinning their hopes on the Prime Minister’s promise of a “reset” after he axed bullying Dominic Cummings aide nine days ago.

But those hopes were dashed when Johnson failed to sack the Home Secretary for similar behaviour.

One Whitehall mandarin told the Sunday Mirror yesterday staff will be far less likely to report bullying after Mr Johnson brushed aside the findings of an inquiry into Patel.

He said: “We were counting on a wind of change in the corridors of power. None of us will now feel we are able to call out bullying. The culture of fear is now firmly entrenched. She’s not the only bully in the Cabinet.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel allegedly threw a folder in the face of a private secretary in 2016
(Image: PA)

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Ministerial standards watchdog Sir Alex Allan found Ms Patel broke ministerial code – usually leading to a resignation – by shouting and swearing at officials.

But she stayed put and her boss refused to sack her.

Sir Alex resigned.

Mr Johnson would only release a synopsis of Sir Alex’s findings – and wanted the report watered down.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror today Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas Symonds says: “Labour demands the full report is published immediately.”

Ms Patel has left a trail of unhappiness in every Government department she has served in.

As Employment Minister, she was said in legal papers to have acted with an “unprovoked level of aggression” towards a staffer who received a £25,000 pay-off after reporting her for bullying following her sacking. The woman took an overdose of prescription drugs after the alleged incident.

It is also claimed that Ms Patel threw a folder in the face of a private secretary in 2016 because it was missing a page. She denies this.

In February, Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam quit and announced he was suing her for constructive dismissal. He claimed Ms Patel organised a “vicious and orchestrated campaign” against him.

Former Home Office permanent secretary Sir David Normington told Radio 4 yesterday: “You shouldn’t have bullies in Government.”

“We have a Prime Minister who doesn’t seem willing to stand up for high standards in public life.”

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