- The Prime Minister’s standards advisor has resigned after Boris Johnson overruled him and refused to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel after a damning report found that she had been guilty of bullying staff.
- Johnson has refused to sack Patel, despite the foreword to the ministerial code, signed off by Johnson last year, stating that ‘there must be no bullying and no harassment.’
- Sir Alex Allan, who wrote the report, resigned and issued a statement saying: ‘I feel that it is right that I should now resign from my position as the prime minister’s independent adviser on the code.’
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The Prime Minister’s advisor on the ministerial code has resigned after Boris Johnson overruled him and refused to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel after his report found that she had been guilty of bullying staff.
A report by Sir Alex Allan, the prime minister’s adviser on the ministerial code who wrote the report, is said to have found that Patel shouted and swore at subordinates in the Home Office and conducted “behaviour that can be described as bullying.”
Johnson has refused to sack Patel, despite the foreword to the ministerial code — signed off by Johnson last year — stating that “there must be no bullying and no harassment.”
However, a spokesperson for the prime minister said that while the prime minister “loathes” bullying he considered Patel’s apology to be “full and frank” and that the matter should end there.
In a resignation statement on Friday, Allan 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.”
Allan’s long-awaited report on Patel’s behaviour was leaked to the Times, the BBC, and other outlets on Thursday following newspaper reports in 2019 that the Home Secretary had been responsible for “bullying, belittling officials in meetings, making unreasonable demands and creating an atmosphere of fear.”
The latest drama to unfold within Downing Street comes as Boris Johnson tries to draw a line under a tumultuous period in which his most senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, resigned after being accused of taking part in a vicious briefing war against Carrie Symonds, the prime minister’s fianceé.
Patel on Friday issued a statement saying she was “sorry that my behaviour in the past has upset people.”
“It has never been my intention to cause upset to anyone. I am very grateful for the hard work of thousands of civil servants who help to deliver the Government’s agenda,” she said.
“I care deeply about delivering on the commitments we have made to the people of this country and I acknowledge that I am direct and have at times got frustrated.”
“I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his support. The Permanent Secretary and I are working closely together to deliver on the vital job the Home Office has to do for the country.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson on Friday said Patel would not be sacked because she had apologised.
“The Prime Minister took advice from independent advisor, Sir Alex Allen, and the Home Secretary has this morning apologised and I would point you towards that apology,” the Downing Street spokesperson said.
“The Prime Minister is reassured that the Home Secretary is sorry for inadvertently upsetting those whom she was working with but ultimately as the arbiter of the ministerial code, weighing up all the factors, the prime minister doesn’t believe there was a breach … The Prime Minister did come to a different view, having weighed up all the different factors.”
Patel was previously forced to resign as International Development Secretary in 2017 after holding unofficial meetings with Israeli officials on what she had described as a family holiday.
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