The Prime Minister reportedly tried to convince his ministerial standards adviser, Sir Alex Allen, who was carrying out the inquiry into Ms. Patel’s conduct, to “tone down” his conclusions that the Home Secretary has engaged in bullying against her staff, which included reported instances of shouting and swearing.
On Friday, November 20, Sir Allen resigned after Bojo overruled his conclusion that Ms. Patel had in fact breached the ministerial code by bullying her staff.
Sir Alex Allan has conducted an investigation into the allegations made earlier this year around the Home Secretary’s conduct. His findings were published on the UK government's website. Patel has repeatedly denied allegations of bullying and stressed that no formal complaint against her had ever been made.
Sir Philip Rutnam, who also resigned his post as the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary back in February after accusing Ms. Patel of a “vicious and orchestrated bullying campaign” against him, took issue with the Prime Minister’s attempts to ultimately absolve his Home Secretary of charges. Mr Putnam said that he called upon Ms. Patel not to shout and swear at members of her staff just a month after taking office in July 2019, adding that he had to tell her to respect her staff “on a number of further occasions.”
Former diplomat and national security adviser Lord Ricketts told Sky News that Sir Alex Allen likely felt that his portion was “untenable” after having his conclusions about Ms. Patel’s behaviour ultimately overlooked by Boris Johnson.
“The ministerial code is policed by the prime minister and if the prime minister rejects the finding of his independent adviser then there is clearly something quite wrong with the situation … It seems to imply that bullying by a senior minister is acceptable and that sends a very bad signal for relations between ministers and the civil service,” Lord Rickett reportedly said.
“The country is facing such a serious issue with recovery from the pandemic, we need ministers and civil servants to be working together confidently, with trust and with frankness on both sides and this episode has not helped that,” he added.
No.10 Downing Street commenting on the issue has said in a widely quoted statement that, “these are serious allegations that suggest Boris Johnson tried to interfere with an investigation into bullying accusations against one of his closest political allies. Sir Alex’s conclusions are entirely his own.”
The opposition Labour Party’s Shadow Home Office Minister, Holly Lynch, reportedly told Sky that, “these are serious allegations that suggest Boris Johnson tried to interfere with an investigation into bullying accusations against one of his closest political allies.”