Home Office pays civil servant £340,000 to settle Priti Patel bullying claim

Charles Hymas
·2-min read
Sir Philip resigned as the Home Office's permanent secretary on Feb 29 last year - Helen William/PA Wire
Sir Philip resigned as the Home Office's permanent secretary on Feb 29 last year - Helen William/PA Wire

A former top civil servant has agreed one of the biggest civil service pay-offs to settle his dismissal claim after accusing Priti Patel of bullying.

Former Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam has received a £340,000 payout, plus his legal costs, from the Government after agreeing to end his unfair dismissal claim.

Sir Philip resigned in February last year, accusing Ms Patel of a "vicious and orchestrated" briefing campaign against him, claiming constructive dismissal and accusing Ms Patel of bullying her subordinates.

A 10-day employment tribunal to hear Sir Philip's case was due to take place in September.

But, in a statement on Thursday, the Home Office said: "The Government and Sir Philip's representatives have jointly concluded that it is in both parties' best interests to reach a settlement at this stage rather than continuing to prepare for an employment tribunal.

"The Government does not accept liability in this matter and it was right that the Government defended the case."

In a statement issued via his FDA union, Sir Philip said: "I am pleased to say that the Government has today settled the claims that I brought against them and which were due to be heard in an employment tribunal in September.

"This settlement resolves my own case. The FDA is continuing to pursue in separate proceedings the wider issues that have been raised. I now look forward to the next stages of my career."

The Government said it "regrets the circumstances" surrounding his resignation but added that both parties were "pleased that a settlement has been reached to these proceedings."

Sir Philip’s resignation led the Cabinet Office to launch an inquiry into whether Ms Patel had broken the code governing ministers' behaviour. Boris Johnson's standards chief Sir Alex Allan found that she had - but the Prime Minister rejected his findings and kept her in post. Sir Alex resigned in response.

In his report, Sir Alex found Ms Patel's "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," he concluded.

Ms Patel apologised for her alleged behaviour, saying "any upset I have caused was completely unintentional". Mr Johnson said he did not think Ms Patel was a bully, and had "full confidence" in her.

The FDA launched a judicial review in a bid to overturn Mr Johnson's decision to stand by Ms Patel.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour's shadow home secretary, accused the Prime Minister of "terrible judgement", adding: "Taxpayers will be appalled at having to pick up the bill for the Home Secretary's unacceptable behaviour.