A civil servant in charge of an inquiry into alleged bullying by Priti Patel of her staff has been ‘moved on’ amid claims that the report will ’embarrass’ the government.
Helen MacNamara will leave her post next month to take up a role as permanent secretary in an as ‘yet identified’ Whitehall department.
A deputy of ousted Cabinet Office secretary Mark Sedwill, MacNamara led a probe into bullying allegations against the home secretary which stem as far back as 2015.
It is understood she is the only person preventing Downing Street from clearing Patel in a report which has been with the prime minister for several weeks.
Leaks from across Whitehall have indicated Patel would be cleared of any charges.
Number 10 is understood to be holding off the report’s release because of ‘robust criticisms’ that could ’embarrass’ the minister and government, according to the FT.
MacNamara’s promotion comes after other civil servants, including Sedwill, former permanent Home Office secretary Philip Rutman and Simon McDonald, ex-permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, were seemingly forced out of their roles.
Sedwill was understood to be one of the last anti-Brexit voices in a top government job.
MacNamara’s investigation looked at allegations of bullying stemming from as back as when Patel was Work and Pensions secretary in 2015 and interviewed staff in other departments the secretary led.
One Whitehall source told the newspaper MacNamara’s departure was a ‘signal that No 10 will move on anyone who might challenge them on the legality or ethics of what Boris and Cummings want to do.
‘Control that office and you no longer have to stick to the rules when it comes to outside appointments.’
Insiders say Sedwill promoted MacNamara as a way of ensuring that she was protected from being ‘thrown under a bus’ once he stood aside.
Another senior government source said MacNamara had been promoted to permanent secretary in a major delivery department which had not yet been confirmed.