Priti Patel’s allies leap to her defence after she is accused of ‘bullying civil servants’

‘Priti Patel works day and night – but she is no bully’: Home Secretary’s allies leap to her defence after she is accused of ‘bullying civil servants’ by forcing them into late-night meetings in bid to deport foreign criminals

  • Priti Patel has reportedly been accused of bullying staff at the Home Office 
  • She also faced claims of trying to oust permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam 
  • But allies of Ms Patel rejected the claims, calling her a ‘collegiate team player’ 
  • Business minister Nadhim Zahawi said Home Secretary is ‘utterly professional’ 

Allies of Priti Patel today leapt to her defence after she was accused of bullying staff at the Home Office. 

The Home Secretary is reported to have clashed with a senior mandarin at her department and also faces allegations of belittling officials and making unreasonable demands, creating an ‘atmosphere of fear’. 

But supporters of Ms Patel have dismissed the claims, with Business minister Nadhim Zahawi insisting that she is ‘utterly professional’ and ‘works day and night’. 

The Home Office said no formal complaints had been made against the Cabinet minister.

Priti Patel has been accused of bullying and belittling officials in meetings, she is pictured in Downing Street on February 13 

Mr Zahawi told LBC: ‘I’ve known Priti for 25 years, she’s utterly professional, works night and day to deliver for the country and her constituents and is absolutely focused on making sure… the people voted for us to take back control of our borders.’

Pushed on whether he believed Ms Patel is a bully, Mr Zahawi said: ‘No, I don’t think she is at all.

‘I’ve worked with Priti in the past on several campaigns, I’ve known her literally for 25 years, she is a brilliant, collegiate team player.’

The bombshell claims relating to the Home Secretary were first reported by The Times. 

The newspaper said Ms Patel has sought to oust permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam from the Home Office,. 

Meanwhile, Sir Philip has reportedly raised concerns with the Cabinet Office about the minister’s treatment of staff.

It was claimed that bubbling tensions came to a head last week when a senior official collapsed after a meeting with Ms Patel following an all-night effort to reverse a High Court ruling barring the deportation of 25 foreign criminals to Jamaica.

At a meeting the following morning he was allegedly confronted by the Home Secretary, who demanded to know why the department had failed to reverse the ruling.

He reportedly fell ill later during another meeting and was taken to hospital, where he was found to have a sodium deficiency. 

Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, was also dragged into the row as Ms Patel demanded the removal of Sir Philip, according to The Times.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We have not received any formal complaints and we take the welfare of our staff extremely seriously.’

An ally of Ms Patel told The Times: “The Home Office is dysfunctional and the current permanent secretary had presided over a sacking of a home secretary (Amber Rudd) and accidental deportations.

“If this were any other environment Philip Rutnam would not only be sacked he’d be denied a pension.”

But a Home Office source told the newspaper: “Sir Philip and (she) have fundamental disagreements about the rule of law. He’s committed and she isn’t.

“She’s belittled him and caused consternation, and she frequently encourages behaviour outside the rule of law.”