Priti Patel bullying investigation delays ‘erosion of trust’ in Whitehall | Home office

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Home Secretary Priti Patel is under pressure on multiple fronts over claim Boris Johnson’s inability to conclude a seven-month bullying probe into his conduct is hurting relations at Whitehall .

The allegation was sent to the prime minister by the FDA union as Patel’s allies said they suspected other ministers could be behind attempts to discredit Home Office plans for them. asylum seekers by disclosing details to the media.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the union, told Johnson that the delay in releasing the investigation’s findings was eroding trust between ministers and senior officials.

“I urge you to recognize the long-term damage being done to relations between ministers and officials by these delays and to address these matters urgently,” Penman wrote in a letter seen by the Guardian.

The Cabinet Office investigation was launched on March 2 by Michael Gove, who told Parliament: “It is vital that this investigation is concluded as quickly as possible in the interests of all involved.”

Patel reportedly mistreated staff and clashed with senior officials from three departments, including in his role as Home Secretary. She denied all the allegations.

Chronology

Priti Patel: a decade in politics

Spectacle

Becomes the first female Asian Conservative MP. Selected for junior ministerial roles in the Treasury and the Department of Work and Pensions by David Cameron. Allies with the ‘new right’ when she co-wrote – with Dominic Raab, Kwasi Kwarteng, Chris Skidmore and Liz Truss – a 2012 book titled Britannia Unchained, which calls for lower taxes and massive economic deregulation, with a section describing the British as “among the world’s worst idlers”.

Obtains the right to attend the cabinet after the election as State Secretary of the Ministry of Work and Pensions. A longtime Eurosceptic, she advocates vigorously for permission to vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign. Angering Emmeline Pankhurst’s great-granddaughter, Helen, when she compares her group of anti-EU women’s campaign, Women for Britain, to suffragettes.

Becomes Secretary for International Development under Theresa May’s leadership, raising concerns among department staff and charities over her support for Brexit and her long-standing skepticism of international development and spending help. One charity even compiles a record of cuts to its previous statements calling for the aid budget to be cut or redistributed.

The BBC’s James Landale says Patel held unauthorized business meetings in Israel with figures such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during what has been billed as a family vacation. She was summoned to Downing Street and, after initially defending herself vigorously, she resigned.

After less than two years in the backbenches, returns to cabinet under Boris Johnson in July as Home Secretary, prompting rights groups to raise his previous comments on areas such as the immigration, asylum and criminal justice – notably the death penalty, which she spoke in favor of on BBC Question Time in 2011, a view she now disavows.

Sir Philip Rutnam, a senior Home Office official, resigns and threatens to sue for constructive dismissal after what he calls “a vicious and orchestrated campaign” against him by Patel. A series of other allegations emerge from his harassment, intimidation, belittlement and yelling at DfID and DWP officials as well as the Home Office. It would have been authorized by a Cabinet Office investigation, not yet published.

Criticize police chiefs for failing to crack down on Black Lives Matter protesters who toppled the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol. Condemns the actions of protesters across the country as “reckless and illegal”. Stokes controversies when she tells the Commons that she will not “attend lectures” on racism after experiencing it herself.

Several reports claimed that the investigation, conducted under the ministerial code, was completed and awaits the Prime Minister’s signature.

Penman wrote that senior officials feared ministerial inquiries, which offer no transparency or time to conclusion, might not be free from political interference.

“Seven months later, it will be difficult to come to any conclusion other than that justice has already been denied and that the continued delay in the process is motivated solely by political considerations,” he wrote.

Trust between government departments has eroded this week after several leaks of Home Office plans for asylum seekers arriving in the UK. Department sources said they were concerned that officials from rival ministries were behind the revelations that authorities had considered detaining people in centers in places such as the island of Ascension and Papua New Guinea.

There are fears that “blue sky” ideas, some of which have come from the Prime Minister’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, may be leaked to damage both the Home Office and Patel.

Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, said some of the briefings could come from potential rivals in any future leadership challenge. “Some people are worried because they see Priti as a future leader of the Conservative Party, and they know that these policies are incredibly popular in the party and therefore want to ridicule them,” he said.

Documents seen by the Guardian suggest that the government has been working for weeks on “blueprints” that include cost estimates to build asylum detention camps on the south Atlantic islands of Ascension and St. Helena. , as well as in Moldova, Morocco and Papua New Guinea. Disused ferries or abandoned oil platforms have also been considered.

A source said: “These stories are not from the Home Office. You have to ask who is disclosing them and why. “

Patel’s allies said the establishment of remote asylum processing centers was not planned in the short term and that the Home Office was more likely to reconsider opening prisons instead and disused detention centers, such as Morton Hall in Lincolnshire.

The interior minister will give details of her migration policy in a speech to the Conservative Party conference on Sunday.

Asked to respond to the FDA letter, a UK government spokesperson said: “The process is underway. The Prime Minister will make any decision on the matter public once the process is complete.

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