02:41 GMT06 December 2020
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    The government's independent adviser on standards, Sir Alex Allan, has investigated Priti Patel's behaviour at three different government departments - the Home Office, Work and Pensions and International Development. She was accused of breaking the ministerial code.

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he has “full confidence” in Home Secretary Priti Patel after she was accused of bullying civil servants.

    She has always strongly denied allegations of bullying and on Friday, 20 November, said it had never been her intention to hurt anyone. Mr Johnson said he considered the matter now closed.

    ​Sir Alex Allan’s report had found she had not consistently met the high standards expected of her under the ministerial code but Mr Johnson said he did not believe she had breached the code.

    Sir Alex said he planned to resign after his report was effectively rejected by the prime minister.

    He said: "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.''

    ​Patel said: "I am sorry that my behaviour in the past has upset people. It has never been my intention to cause upset to anyone. I am very grateful for the hard work of thousands of civil servants who help to deliver the government’s agenda."

    She added: "I acknowledge that I am direct and have at times got frustrated. I would like to thank the prime minister for his support."

    The opposition Labour Party called for Sir Alex’s report to be published.

    Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "Yet again, the prime minister has been found wanting when his leadership has been tested. It is hard to imagine another workplace in the UK where this behaviour would be condoned by those at the top." 

    The most senior civil servant at the Home Office, Philip Rutnam resigned in February, saying Patel had belittled employees and fostered an environment of fear.

    The prime minister's decision to support the home secretary comes only days after his top adviser Dominic Cummings left Downing Street. His decision could be linked to his attempts to paper over cracks in the Conservative Party over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Friday he thought Patel was doing an excellent job at the Home Office.

    ​Sir Alex found Patel had become "justifiably in many instances" frustrated by Home Office officials but this had "manifested itself in forceful expression, including some occasions of shouting and swearing."

    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."

    Tags:
    bullying, Home Secretary, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel
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