Senior civil servant in charge of Priti Patel bullying inquiry 'to leave post'

Luke O'Reilly
·2-min read
Priti Patel will unveil details of the new points-based immigration system on Monday: PA
Priti Patel will unveil details of the new points-based immigration system on Monday: PA

The top civil servant in charge of the bullying inquiry into Home Secretary Priti Patel will reportedly be moved from her post.

It comes after reports in The Times of a “stand-off” between senior officials and political aides over the publication of the inquiry’s findings.

The paper said senior civil servant Helen MacNamara is refusing to exonerate Ms Patel from some of the allegations of bullying, despite Boris Johnson’s aides reportedly wanting to say the inquiry found no conclusive evidence.

A Cabinet Office investigation was launched in March over claims that Ms Patel belittled colleagues and clashed with senior officials in three different departments.

Sir Philip Rutnam resigned from his role (PA)
Sir Philip Rutnam resigned from his role (PA)

One Whitehall source told The Guardian: “This move is a signal that No 10 will move on anyone who might challenge them on the legality or ethics of what Boris and Cummings want to do.

“Control that office and you no longer have to stick to the rules when it comes to outside appointments.”

Sir Philip Rutnam, who was the Home Office’s permanent secretary, quit earlier this year accusing the Home Secretary of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” against him.

He added that his decision to resign was with “great regret after a career of 33 years”.

Ms Patel has denied the bullying claims (PA)
Ms Patel has denied the bullying claims (PA)

In a statement released by his lawyers at that time, Sir Philip said: “The Home Secretary categorically denied any involvement in this campaign to the Cabinet Office.

“I regret I do not believe her. She has not made the effort I would expect to dissociate herself from the comments.”

He went on to claim that despite his efforts at reconciliation, Ms Patel “made no effort to engage with me to discuss this”, adding: “I believe these events give me very strong grounds to claim constructive, unfair dismissal and I will be pursuing that claim in the courts.”

Ms Patel has expressed concern at the “false” claims and allies described her as a “demanding” boss but not a bully.

The Cabinet Office has been approached for comment.