POLITICS
03/03/2020 21:05 GMT | Updated 04/03/2020 10:20 GMT

Priti Patel 'Regrets' Resignation Of Top Civil Servant Amid Bullying Claims

Home secretary makes call for unity after accusations from the most senior official at the Home Office.

Priti Patel has said she “regrets” the decision of the most senior civil servant at the Home Office to quit as the home secretary is engulfed in accusations of bullying.

Sir Philip Rutnam dramatically announced at the weekend that he was standing down as permanent secretary, claiming constructive dismissal and accusing Patel of bullying her subordinates.

The BBC reported that in a joint email to staff written with Sir Philip’s interim successor Shona Dunn, Patel insisted they cared about the wellbeing of all employees.

They expressed their gratitude to the staff for their continuing hard work and “commitment to deliver the government’s priorities”.

“We both deeply value the work that every person in this department does and care about the well-being of all our staff. It is therefore a time for us all to come together as one team,“ they wrote.

“We also recognise the importance of candour, confidentiality and courtesy in building trust and confidence between ministers and civil servants.

“Both of us are fully committed to making sure the professionalism you would expect to support this is upheld.”

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Sir Philip Rutnam and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

They added: “We both regret Sir Philip’s decision to resign. He had a long and dedicated career of public service for which we thank him.”

The email comes after Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove announced on Monday that there was to be an inquiry into allegations Patel had broken the ministerial code.

Boris Johnson has expressed his full confidence in Patel, who he promoted to one of the great offices of state after she had previously been sacked from the Cabinet by Theresa May.

However, some Tory MPs have questioned how much longer she can carry on in the job, while Labour has complained the inquiry into her conduct – to be carried out by the Cabinet Office – is not fully independent.

In his televised resignation statement, Sir Philip accused Patel of orchestrating a “vicious” campaign against him, of lying about her involvement in it and of creating a climate of fear in her department.

Patel has denied the allegations. The Home Office declined to comment on the email.