Alex Allan was right to resign after Boris Johnson metaphorically spat in his face – and in the faces of every civil servant who has ever been abused by an ignorant, self-important MP.
The report on bullying allegations by the now-former government adviser on ministerial standards stated clearly that Priti Patel was guilty of bullying civil servants while a minister in three government departments.
Under current Parliamentary rules, this means she has broken the ministerial code and must resign.
But Johnson has abused his position as prime minister – and therefore the ultimate judge of whether the code has been broken or not. In the face of the evidence, he has ruled that she did not break the code and may continue as Home Secretary.
Standards chief Sir Alex Allan found that Ms Patel had broken the code governing ministers’ behaviour.
But the PM rejected his findings, saying he did not think Ms Patel was a bully and had “full confidence” in her.
Perhaps we should not be surprised that Johnson rejected the report. It seems he had been trying to rally support for Patel, on the quiet, for some time:
It … emerged that he had urged Tory MPs, in a WhatsApp message, to “form a square around the Prittster”.
That approach seems to have worked in the case of Tory nodding dog Matt Hancock – who of course says anything he’s told to say:
Naga – Should a minister be sacked if they break the ministerial code?
Matt Hancock – Patel is courteous & kind
Naga – Would you be comfortable to sit next to a minister who has been proven to have broken the ministerial code?
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) November 20, 2020
Another block in the “wall around the Prittster was Dehenna Davison, who the people of Bishop Auckland – in a moment of madness – seem to have elected as their first Conservative MP.
Her tweet is nothing but whataboutery and she deserved the put-down she received:
No, she is a bully. I recall Boris Johnson deciding to block John Bercow entering the House of Lords on the grounds of bullying. Patel broke the Ministerial Code…AGAIN – she must either resign or be sacked.
— Finbar O'Toole #FBPE #RejoinEU 🇪🇺 🇬🇧 🐇 🇪🇺 (@FinbarToole) November 19, 2020
Mention of John Bercow puts the seal on the matter, as far as the reliability of her fellow MPs’ comments goes:
Oh the irony kicks in again!
Today Matt Hancock defends Priti Patel with his life over her being a fucking bully, yet a few months back he condemned John Bercow for the same thing!#ToryScumOut #KayBurley #oneruleforthem pic.twitter.com/30cE6d2WMQ
— kerry Hooper 🥀 (@hewitson10) November 20, 2020
And there’s a big difference between allegations about Bercow and those about Patel:
It's pretty simple Mark.
Patel has bullied people – proven.
Bercow was accused – unproven.
— Paellapockets (@rarelyused123) November 20, 2020
— Hazyjay (@BighighBBJay) November 20, 2020
Patel herself has seized on part of the Allan report that said “no feedback was given to the home secretary of the impact of her behaviour, which meant she was unaware of issues that she could otherwise have addressed”.
She has apologised for upsetting people in any way, saying it was “completely unintentional”.
It makes a nice story.
But Sir Philip Rutnam, who resigned as Permanent Secretary to the Home Office earlier this year, said the report was inaccurate on this point and that
Patel was advised not to “swear and shout” at staff last year.
In a statement issued by the FDA union, Sir Philip said: “I have a high regard for Sir Alex Allan and regret his resignation, but I was at no stage asked to contribute evidence to the Cabinet Office investigation which gave rise to his advice to the Prime Minister.
“The advice states that no feedback was given to the Home Secretary and that she was therefore unaware of issues that she might otherwise have addressed. This is not correct.
“As early as August 2019, the month after her appointment, she was advised that she must not shout and swear at staff. I advised her on a number of further occasions between September 2019 and February 2020 about the need to treat staff with respect, and to make changes to protect health, safety and wellbeing.”
So the report did not contain all the information but still found that Patel was a bully – and that was not enough for Boris Johnson to have her removed.
The only conclusion is that Boris Johnson does not care if his MPs mistreat the staff of their government departments.
This means civil servants are not safe in their work and may be subjected to abuse by Conservative MPs at any time – and now know that they may not rely on fair treatment from the Conservative government if this happens.
If any such abuse happens in the future, there’s only one course of action for them to take: the same course as Alex Allan.
Perhaps a mass exodus of expertise will teach Johnson the error of being a bully-supporting bonehead.
But I doubt it.
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