Shameless Boris Johnson demands ‘no place for bullying’ despite keeping Priti Patel in a job
Boris Johnson with Priti Patel in happier times (Image: PA)
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Shameless Boris Johnson has demanded his ministers guarantee “no place for bullying” in government – days after he kept Priti Patel in a job.
The Prime Minister wrote to ministers and top civil servants today saying they should “create a culture” where bullying is not tolerated.
He wrote: "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."
It comes despite the PM refusing to sack Priti Patel, despite a report finding she shouted and swore at staff in a breach of the Ministerial Code.
Independent advisor Sir Alex Allan said the Home Secretary’s behaviour “can be described as bullying”.
A report found Priti Patel shouted and swore at staff in a breach of the Ministerial Code
(Image: UK PARLIAMENT/AFP via Getty Imag)
Yet Boris Johnson gave the green light to bullies everywhere when he overturned Sir Alex’s findings and refused to sack her.
That’s despite the Home Office firing a dozen other staff in two years for “bullying, harassment, discrimination or offensive behaviour”.
Today’s letter from the Prime Minister doesn’t just shift the burden for stopping bullying from the PM to ministers and permanent secretaries.
It also appears to contain a threat to top officials not to leak the details of ministers’ bullying behaviour in future.
It says: “Relationships of mutual trust and respect between politicians and their officials are paramount.
“This includes keeping internal conversations private”.
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Critics have accused the Prime Minister of driving a coach and horses through ministerial ethics and putting future whistleblowers in an impossible position.
Labour said Ms Patel should resign or be sacked – just like any other minister found to have breached the Ministerial Code.
The Home Secretary apologised on Friday after the long-awaited Cabinet Office inquiry – which Boris Johnson sat on for months – found she broke the Code.
Yet Boris Johnson sensationally overruled the inquiry and decided he didn't believe Ms Patel broke the Ministerial Code.
And he ordered Tory MPs to rally round her, telling a WhatsApp group: "Time to form a square around the prittster".
The civil servant who led the inquiry, Sir Alex Allan, resigned instantly after the PM's decision, which came at the end of Anti-Bullying Week.
It later emerged Sir Alex was not able to speak to Philip Rutnam, the Home Secretary’s top civil servant who quit accusing Ms Patel of bullying, as part of his probe.
And it was claimed Boris Johnson asked Sir Alex to tone down his report, but the ethics watchdog refused.
No10 are refusing to publish the full report, but it’s claimed to have found Ms Patel told civil servants they were “f***ing useless”.
The PM’s Press Secretary Allegra Stratton claimed last week: “He hasn’t tolerated bullying. It is not his belief that Priti Patel is a bully.”
The report said Ms Patel was not adequately supported in the department, and suggested any bullying was unintentional.
Reports have suggested Ms Patel may face the axe as Home Secretary in a spring reshuffle.