Priti Patel faces legal action over bullying allegations

PUBLISHED: 13:31 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:03 20 April 2020

Home secretary Priti Patel. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire.

Home secretary Priti Patel. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire.

Former Home Office civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam has formally launched legal action against Priti Patel.

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The department’s ex-permanent secretary is claiming “constructive dismissal” in the claim submitted to an employment tribunal on Monday morning, civil servants’ union the FDA confirmed.

Rutnam quit his post in February amid allegations of bullying behaviour by home secretary Patel.

The news of the latest move in his legal case comes as the Cabinet Office is expected to conclude an inquiry into claims that the minister clashed with senior officials and belittled colleagues.

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Sir Philip quit his post in February launching a blistering attack on Patel, claiming he had been the target of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” which he accused her of orchestrating, and said the decision to resign was with “great regret after a career of 33 years”.

In a statement released by his lawyers at that time, he said: “The Home Secretary categorically denied any involvement in this campaign to the Cabinet Office.

“I regret I do not believe her. She has not made the effort I would expect to dissociate herself from the comments.”

He went on to claim that despite his efforts at reconciliation, Patel “made no effort to engage with me to discuss this”, adding: “I believe these events give me very strong grounds to claim constructive, unfair dismissal and I will be pursuing that claim in the courts.”

It was also claimed in various reports that the home secretary was distrusted by intelligence chiefs - which the government denied.

Patel expressed concern at the “false” claims, while allies described her as a “demanding” boss but not a bully.

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