London, Apr 29 (PTI) UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to be cleared by an internal review into allegations that she bullied civil servants in the Home Office and other government departments she led, according to a UK media report.
While the official status of the inquiry remains as 'ongoing', Patel’s allies have claimed that officials had reviewed all the information and found “no evidence” against the senior Indian-origin Cabinet minister.
‘The Daily Telegraph’ on Wednesday said, the report by Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, was completed within the last week and presented to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his return to 10 Downing Street on Monday after his recovery from coronavirus.
“I was categoric in the inquiry that there was no allegation against her, nor was she investigated at the time,” former minister Ian Duncan Smith, who worked with Patel in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when she was employment minister, told the newspaper.
The internal investigation was ordered by Johnson under the UK’s ministerial code of conduct as a scandal erupted around the senior-most Home Office civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, who dramatically resigned pointing the finger of blame at Patel.
He has since launched separate legal proceedings against the minister and the Home Office for unfair “constructive dismissal”.
As it emerged that the internal Cabinet Office review found nothing to support allegations that Patel bullied staff at the Home Office, DWP or Department for International Trade or that she breached the ministerial code by doing so, the Opposition demanded that the findings be made public.
The Labour Party's shadow ministers Nick Thomas-Symonds and Rachel Reeves have written to the UK Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to update Parliament about the progress of the inquiry at the earliest.
Meanwhile, the First Division Association (FDA), the union for senior civil servants which is supporting Rutnam’s legal action through an employment tribunal, demanded an 'independent investigation' that is 'free from political influence'.
In his statement at the time of his resignation at the end of February, Rutnam had alleged that he had received complaints against Patel’s conduct, which included “shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands, behaviour that created fear and needed some bravery to call out”.
Patel has not publicly spoken out in reference to the allegations, but it was made clear that she denies all the claims.
In an email to Home Office staff in the aftermath of the row with the former head of her department, the minister said she regretted Rutnam's exit and that she 'deeply cared' about the 'wellbeing' of her civil servants and valued their professionalism.
Johnson had repeatedly offered Patel his full support at the time, describing her as a “fantastic Home Secretary” doing one of the toughest jobs in his top team. PTI AK PMS PMS