The Scotsman

Stan­dards chief quits as John­son backs Pa­tel

● Prime Min­is­ter re­jects find­ings of bul­ly­ing probe into Home Sec­re­tary

- By HARRIET LINE Crime · Society · Bullying · UK News · Politics · Boris Johnson · Priti Patel · Alex Ferguson · Home Office · Mauritania · Metropolitan Police Service · Arbeidersparty · United Kingdom · Jess Phillips

Boris John­son's ad­viser on min­is­te­rial stan­dards has re­signed af­ter the Prime Min­is­ter con­tra­dicted his ad­vice by judg­ing that Priti Pa­tel did not breach the rules de­spite be­ing found to have bul­lied staff.

Sir Alex Allan said the Home Sec­re­tary had not al­ways treated civil ser­vants with “con­sid­er­a­tion and re­spect” and con­cluded that her ap­proach on oc­ca­sions “amounted to be­hav­iour that can be de­scribed as bul­ly­ing in terms of the im­pact felt by in­di­vid­u­als”.

He said Ms Pa­tel had “not con­sis­tently met the high stan­dards re­quired by the min­is­te­rial code”, though he added that there was “no evidence that she was aware of the im­pact of her be­hav­iour”.

But Mr John­son, who is ar­biter of the code, judged that Ms Pa­tel did not breach the rules. He con­tin­ues to have “full con­fi­dence” in the Home Sec­re­tary and “con­sid­ers this mat­ter now closed”, ac­cord­ing to a govern­ment state­ment.

Sir Alex re­signed in re­sponse to Mr John­son's verdict, say­ing: “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.”

Ms Pa­tel is­sued an “un­re­served, ful­some apol­ogy” and said there were “no ex­cuses” for what hap­pened.

She told the BBC :“I have clearly up­set peo­ple in the past and on re­flec­tion–and I have had time to re­flect upon this as well–look­ing at what has been pub­lished to­day on the re­port, there is no ques­tion I'm ab­so­lutely

sorry for the up­set that has been caused and I'm very, very clear about that.”

Ms Pa­tel said she wanted to change the “cul­ture and ways of work­ing” in the Home Of­fice, but noted that it was a “chal­leng­ing depart­ment” where“we' re mak­ing life­and- death de­ci­sions ever y sin­gle day”.

Min­is­ters are usu­ally ex­pected to re­sign if they breach the code and mr john son' s de­ci­sion to stand by Ms Pa­tel sparked fury from op­po­si­tion MPS.

Labour leader SirKeir Starmer said: “It is hard to imag­ine another work­place in the UK where this be­hav­iour would be con­doned by those at the top.”

Jess Phillips, shadow min­is­ter for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, said it was an “ut­ter dis­grace” and any Con­ser­va­tive MP “seek­ing to de­fend this is ut­terly with­out rea­son or com­pre­hen­sion”.

Sir Alex con­cluded that Ms Pa­tel's be­hav­iour – which was said to in­clude some oc­ca­sions of shout­ing and swear­ing – met the def­i­ni­tion of bul­ly­ing adopted by the civil ser­vice.

In his ad­vice pub­lished yes­ter­day dur­ing Anti- Bul­ly­ing Week, he said: “The def­i­ni­tion of bul­ly­ing adopted by the Civil Ser­vice ac­cepts that legitimate, rea­son­able and con­struc­tive crit­i­cism of a worker's per­for­mance will not amount to bul­ly­ing.

“It de­fines bul­ly­ing as in­tim­i­dat­ing or in­sult­ing be­hav­iour that makes an in­di­vid­ual feel un­com­fort­able, fright­ened, less re­spected or put down. In­stances of the be­hav­iour re­ported to the Cab­i­net Of­fice would meet such a def­i­ni­tion.”

He added: “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.”

How­ever, he said there was “no evidence t hat she was aware of the im­pact of her be­hav­iour, and no feed­back was given to her at the time”.

He added: “The high pres­sure and de­mands of the role, in the Home Of­fice, cou­pled with the need for more sup­port­ive lead­er­ship from the top of the depart­ment has clearly been a con­trib­u­tory fac­tor.

“In par­tic­u­lar, I note the find­ing of dif­fer­ent and more pos­i­tive be­hav­iour since th­ese is­sues were raised with her.”

Matthew Ry­croft, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary at the Home Of­fice, said re­la­tion­ships be­tween of­fi­cials and min­is­ters at the depart­ment had “im­proved con­sid­er­ably” but ad­mit­ted the re­port made for “dif­fi­cult read­ing”.

How­ever, Sir Philip Rut­nam, who re­signed as the Home Of­fice's per­ma­nent sec­re­tary un­der Mrs Pa­tel, con­tested Sir Alex's ad­vice.

He said he had ad­vised the Home Sec­re­tary not to “swear and shout” at staff last year and said he was “at no stage asked to con­trib­ute evidence to the Cab­i­net Of­fice in­ves­ti­ga­tion”.

He said: “The ad­vice states that no feed­back was given to the Home Sec­re­tary and that she was there­fore un­aware of is­sues that she might oth­er­wise have ad­dressed. This is not cor­rect.

” As early as Au­gust 2019, the month af­ter her ap­point­ment, she was ad­vised that she must not shout and swear at staff.”

 ??  ?? Priti Pa­tel is hang­ing on to her job but Boris John­son’s de­ci­sion to back his Home Sec­re­tary sparked the res­ig­na­tion of the govern­ment’s stan­dards ad­viser
Priti Pa­tel is hang­ing on to her job but Boris John­son’s de­ci­sion to back his Home Sec­re­tary sparked the res­ig­na­tion of the govern­ment’s stan­dards ad­viser
 ??  ?? Priti Pa­tel re­ceived the sup­port of the Prime Min­is­ter de­spite the in­quiry’s find­ings
Priti Pa­tel re­ceived the sup­port of the Prime Min­is­ter de­spite the in­quiry’s find­ings

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK