Johnson launches inquiry into Patel bullying allegations

UK

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel board a security boat in the Port of Southampton, Britain December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked officials to “establish the facts” by launching an inquiry into allegations of bullying against interior minister Priti Patel, senior minister Michael Gove said on Monday.

On Saturday, Philip Rutnam, Britain’s top official in the interior ministry or Home Office, resigned, saying he had become the “target of vicious and orchestrated campaign against him” which, he alleged, Patel was involved in.

Patel has rejected the allegations and Johnson has supported her, saying he has every confidence in her work.

The row has shone a light on the government’s relationship with officials, or so-called civil servants. Johnson’s senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, has long been critical of some civil servants and has encouraged a shake up in how government is run.

“Allegations have been made that the home secretary has breached the ministerial code. The home secretary absolutely rejects these allegations,” Gove told parliament.

“This government always takes any complaints relating to the ministerial code seriously and in line with the process set out in the ministerial code, the prime minister has asked the cabinet office to establish the facts.”

Patel has been driving through changes in Britain’s immigration policy after leaving the European Union in January, introducing plans for a new points-based system which will prioritise access for high-skilled workers from around the world.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper

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