Former Top Civil Servant Lodges Constructive Dismissal Claim Against Priti Patel

Philip Rutnam quit in February after a series of clashes with the home secretary.

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The Home Office’s former top civil servant has officially lodged a claim of constructive dismissal and whistleblowing against Priti Patel.

Philip Rutnam resigned as permanent secretary to the department after 33 years in February, claiming he had become the “target of a vicious and orchestrated campaign” led by the home secretary.

Patel has faced a number of claims of bullying, according to reports, and is currently being investigated by the Cabinet Office. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Rutnam’s employment tribunal claim, however, is of constructive dismissal and of whistleblowing. Individuals can make a claim of whistleblowing under employment law if they make a protected disclosure about an organisation or co-worker and they are subsequently victimised or bullied for doing so. It is not clear what disclosure Rutnam is said to have made.

The FDA union, which is assisting Rutnam with his claim, put out a statement on Monday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel

General secretary Dave Penman said: “On February 29, 2020, Sir Philip Rutnam resigned as permanent secretary of the Home Office, indicating that he intended to pursue a claim of constructive dismissal.

“Following his resignation, the FDA instructed Gavin Mansfield QC, head of Littleton Chambers and employment law specialist, as counsel to advise Sir Philip, supported by Clive Howard, senior principal lawyer, employment and partnership at Slater and Gordon.

“This morning Sir Philip, with the support of his legal team and the FDA, submitted a claim to the employment tribunal for unfair (constructive) dismissal and whistleblowing against the home secretary.

“Sir Philip will not be making any further comment at this time.”

When he resigned, Rutnam said he had been accused of briefing the media against Patel – something he denied – and that he had been the subject of a “vicious and orchestrated” briefing campaign to the press as a result.

In an extraordinary public speech at the time, Rutnam 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 efforts I would expect to disassociate herself against from the comments.”

He said he had tried to make amends with Patel at the request of the prime minister and Cabinet Office, and that his treatment was “part of a wider pattern in government”.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he has confidence in the home secretary.

Number 10 declined to comment on ongoing legal proceedings today.

HuffPost UK has contacted the Home Office for comment.


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