Colleagues defend UK interior minister accused of bullying

Colleagues defend UK interior minister accused of bullying thumbnail

Members of Britain’s Conservative government defended the country’s interior minister on Friday after an investigation reportedly found she broke ministerial rules by bullying staff.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been under investigation after several civil servants accused her of bullying. The top civil servant in the Home Office, Philip Rutnam resigned in March, saying Patel had belittled employees and fostered an environment of fear in the department.

Patel denies the allegations.

Publication of the investigation’s findings has been delayed for months by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office. A summary of its findings, though not necessarily the full report, is expected to be released Friday.

The Times of London and other media reported that it concluded that Patel “has not always met the high standards of the (ministerial) code in treating civil servants with respect.” It said her behavior met the definition of bullying, though it may have been unintentional.

Cabinet ministers found to have breached the ministerial code are generally expected to resign.

The opposition Labour Party said the full report must be published or it would look like a government “cover-up.”

Patel was appointed by Johnson to the key post responsible for immigration and crime-fighting after his December 2019 election victory. A law-and-order hard-liner, she has vowed to stop migrants trying to cross the English Channel from France in small boats, though without much success.

Colleagues defended Patel. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said she was “an excellent home secretary and really delivering on things that matter to people,” while International Trade Secretary Liz Truss called her “compassionate, determined, hardworking and professional.”