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Telegraph columnist slammed for suggesting Priti Patel is too short to be a bully

Home secretary Priti Patel arriving at Downing Street - Credit: Getty Images

A Telegraph columnist has been heavily criticised after suggesting Priti Patel was too short to be a bully.

Allison Pearson caused a stir online when she published her latest Telegraph column blasting allegations of bullying against home secretary Patel.

The article comes after prime minister Boris Johnson swept aside findings by his chief adviser on ministerial standards that Patel had bullied her staff.

Sir Alex Allan, who led the investigation into the bullying claims, quit on Friday in protest against the prime minister’s decision.

In a statement, 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.”

In her Tuesday column, Pearson wrote that it “beggars belief” that Patel “who is barely more than 5ft tall managed to terrorise all those 6ft 3in public school mandarins”.

“If you take a hard line with your staff because they are failing to act quickly to stop illegal migration, then you’re a bully. But, if you don’t stop the boats, you get fired which means the arrogant forces of institutional inertia have claimed the scalp of yet another home secretary.”

Pearson added: “Ms Patel could have been an icon not a demon, if only she weren’t the wrong kind of brown person.

“If she gets ejected from the Home Office, it’s not just a courageous female that is demoted. It’s democracy itself.”

Pearson’s article received swift backlash on Twitter.

Writer James Felton posted: “Allison Pearson there pretending she thinks bullying is done in height order (for money).”

Law professor Paul Bernal quipped: “I’d like to thank Allison Pearson for keeping the Priti Patel bullying story in the news. It’s important it doesn’t get forgotten in amongst all the other awfulness.”

Julien Hoez added: “People like @allisonpearson, who believe that short people/women can’t bully taller people/men, don’t actually understand how power works and have a very juvenile and ignorant understanding of the concept.”

University of Bristol professor Robert J Mayhew said: “Gosh, such insight into bullying. Napoleon was also too small to run an army and Mike Tyson was too small to terrorise Frank Bruno. Oh wait…Maybe small intellect and empathy are the problems here.”

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