Category Archives: Civil Service

Web of lies around Priti Patel bullying report: why is she protected if she pushes people to suicide?

I don’t like it when people in my government lie to me.

I have a feeling I share that opinion with many people.

Priti Patel seized on the part of Alex Allan’s report into bullying allegations against her, that said she had not been warned that her behaviour towards civil service employees exceeded the bounds of acceptability.

But it seems that this was because Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip Rutnam, the former Permanent Secretary to the Home Office, who is suing the government for constructive dismissal.

According to The Guardian,

sources say Allan was informed he could not interview Rutnam because of the legal action. Allan, however, felt that his inquiry was being denied potentially crucial evidence.

Rutnam… said she was clearly advised not to shout and swear at staff the month after her appointment in 2019 and that he told her to treat staff with respect “on further occasions”.

The indication that Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip suggests that his claim is correct. Priti Patel – as the person who was given the advice – would therefore have known she had it.

So it seems she lied, in order to make herself look better. That in itself is despicable.

Worse still, we hear that the prime minister – Boris Johnson – himself asked for the report on Patel to be “palatable”. Doesn’t this suggest that he didn’t want the facts – just something he could use to deflect criticism?

Is it any wonder that Sir Alex resigned after Johnson ignored even the findings of his report as it eventually appeared?

Finally, there is the odious spectacle of Tory MPs and ministers rallying to support Patel – a colleague whose loathsome behaviour appears to have pushed one employee into attempting suicide:

Mr Khan attempted to endorse it because his boss told him to help “form a square around the Prittster”.

So now we have an increasing number of Conservative MPs – and, presumably, other Tories – trying to deceive us all into accepting that there’s no reason for Priti Patel to be removed from office.

It seems one bad apple really can spoil the whole barrel. Or were they already spoiled and this episode just showed us the extent of it?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘asked for Patel report to be palatable’, source claims – BBC News

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Slap in the face for civil service as Boris Johnson endorses Priti Patel’s bullying

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson: you’re probably sick of this image but I’ve now associated it firmly with the ongoing Patel bullying story. She and Johnson appear to be very firm buddies and he has joined demonstrated that he is happy to trash the ministerial code to keep her in his government.

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:

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:

Mention of John Bercow puts the seal on the matter, as far as the reliability of her fellow MPs’ comments goes:

And there’s a big difference between allegations about Bercow and those about Patel:

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.

Source: Priti Patel: Bullying inquiry head quits as PM backs home secretary – BBC News

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Priti Patel ‘broke behaviour rules’ – so that means she’s a bully, right?

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson: allies against the civil service?

This is what happens – Boris Johnson – when senior members of the government delay important announcements: other people leak them and steal your thunder.

That can be the only reason for details of the Cabinet Office report on Priti Patel’s misbehaviour in three government departments to be released today – less than 24 hours after This Site suggested Johnson had no excuse to continue sitting on it now that he’s self-isolating and has more time to look into the matter.

Johnson still hasn’t done anything himself, so people around him have taken matters into their own hands.

They say the report – that was finalised all the way back in the summer, showed that

Priti Patel had broken rules on ministers’ behaviour.

It said she

had not met the requirements of the ministerial code to treat civil servants with consideration and respect.

And it said

the investigation had found evidence of bullying, even if it had not been intentional.

How do you bully someone unintentionally?

Under the Ministerial Code, a minister found to have broken its rules must resign.

So it’s “Toodle-pip Priti; don’t call us” – right?

Apparently not.

Remember I said the report was finished in the summer? Johnson has had it since September and has done nothing. One of the BBC’s sources stated not only that

Priti Patel broke the ministerial code

but that

the prime minister buried it.

Now he’s being pushed into doing something – it is being claimed that Johnson will make an announcement on Friday – it seems he is hoping to keep her in her job by changing the rules to allow different penalties.

The BBC’s report states:

Former Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill suggested there could be a “wider range of sanctions”, telling MPs: “I don’t think it should be binary between let off or sacked.”

And it seems Johnson wants to use this to get his crony off the hook:

The BBC understands there have been conversations in government this week about how to manage the situation, with suggestions that Ms Patel may be given a reprimand, or be asked to apologise, but keep her job.

Apparently we’ll find out the final decision on Friday but if it isn’t sufficiently punitive, I think many people will agree with Civil Service Union gen sec David Penman:

He described the system as not “fit for purpose”, adding: “We need an independent process that’s not relying upon a prime minister making a political judgement.”

As if that’s going to happen with Johnson in charge!

Source: Inquiry ‘found Priti Patel broke behaviour rules’ – BBC News

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Now Boris Johnson is self-isolating, can he read and release the report on Priti Patel’s bullying?

Priti Patel: her smile in this image means she had probably just done somebody some harm.

Boris Johnson has been sitting on the report on whether Priti Patel bullied civil servants in three different government departments, according to former Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill.

I know he reckons he’s working, with the benefit of Zoom or whatever video calling system he prefers, but it seems clear that he’ll have the time to flick through this report now.

Perhaps he’ll even get around to – finally! – giving the thumbs-up for its release.

Hope springs eternal.

I mean, the investigation was launched in the spring, after Sir Philip Rutnam quit as Permanent Secretary to the Home Office alleging a “vicious and orchestrated campaign” against him.

Lord Sedwill said the report had been with Mr Johnson since before he left his post in September.

So for two months now, then.

Say what you like about Labour but it managed to complete an investigation into a high-profile member within 19 days.

So what’s the hold-up?

According to The Mirror, Downing Street said:

“It’s an ongoing process.

“Once we are in a position to make public the PM’s conclusions then we will do so.”

Doesn’t it seem increasingly that the report is damning and Johnson is trying to find a way of pretending that his crony isn’t a wrong ‘un?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘has sat on Priti Patel bullying inquiry report for months’ – Mirror Online

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Is Priti Patel a bully or isn’t she? And is Boris Johnson covering up for her?

 

One man and his crony: Boris Johnson (right) and Priti Patel – who seems to be dressed up like a dog’s dinner for reasons unknown.

Here’s another crony of Boris Johnson who seems to get preferential treatment despite an ever-lengthening series of blunders: Priti Patel.

She was faced with serious allegations of bullying civil service staff at three different government departments in March, including claims from a former Permanent Secretary at the Home Office.

The Cabinet Office launched an inquiry and said that it would be for Johnson – as prime minister – to decide whether to publicise its conclusions.

Well, that inquiry ended some time ago and Johnson has shown no sign of telling us what it decided.

Should we draw our own conclusions?

One person who thinks it would be better if we were just told is Lord Evans of Weardale, the former head of MI5 and now adviser on standards in public life. He said:

When you have got these allegations that have not really been put to bed then it’s easy to say they’ve just been brushed over and I don’t think that’s ideal for public trust and public standards.

The Cabinet Office has done some form of investigation. It has not been published so it is very difficult to know whether there was something here or whether there wasn’t.

And still the uncertainty drags on.

Meanwhile, Patel has legislated to remove our ability to move freely from the UK to other countries. She has tried to have asylum-seeking migrants sent to concentration camps on St Helena or Ascension Island. She allegedly encouraged attacks on “activist lawyers” who stand up for such asylum-seekers’ legal rights. The list of her lunacies lengthens every day.

And Johnson stands by her.

Another of his little cronies.

Source: Boris Johnson under pressure to publish Priti Patel bullying report – Mirror Online

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Reinventing the wheel: after replacing civil servants with expensive private consultants, Cummings wants to replace them with… a civil service

Caught out: Dominic Cummings and his puppet Boris Johnson are pretending to be creating a shiny new way to stop spiralling consultancy and private contractor costs for the government – but in fact they are simply trying to revive the civil service after successive Tory governments spent the last 10 years running it into the ground.

Dominic Cummings – what an absolute, utter, dunderheaded nincompoop.

After months in which the Tory government under his puppet Boris Johnson has been doling out cash hand over fist to expensive private consultants for help on Covid-19 – and getting nothing in return…

… and years in which the Tories have been disparaging the expertise of the civil service, pushing leading public servants to quit forever…

Cummings has decided that private consultants are just too expensive and the government should consider creating an in-house organisation for service provision instead.

He has given it a snazzy new name: the Crown Consultancy. The concept will be more familiar to you as the Civil Service.

The plan was presented to the public via the Financial Times – which is behind a paywall, so I’ve been referring to a report in The London Economic instead:

“There’s a lot of reliance on consultancies,” one source close to the plan told the paper. “It would be sensible to look at what we can do internally, rather than externally.”

Isn’t that a description of what the Civil Service does?

This is a story about government spin.

The real headline is that the Conservatives have wasted billions – perhaps hundreds of billions – on private rip-off merchants since they came back into office in 2010, because of their well-professed distrust of so-called “experts”.

Between 2016 and 2020, Britain spent £2.6 billion on just eight consultancies – including KPMG, McKinsey, Deloitte and EY.

The coronavirus crisis has seen the government’s reliance on private-sector consultancies spiral, with at least £56 million spent for help with issues as wide-ranging as data analysis and supplying PPE.

Only £56 million? I make it £100 million – and all because neither Boris Johnson nor Dominic Cummings could be bothered to think for themselves.

But of course these figures do not include the sums spent on private companies recommended to provide services by these consultants.

Look at the privatisation of the probation service: £2.5 billion went down the drain in that disaster.

Related to that, what about the scandal of privately-run prisons, in which G4S was fined £2.7 million for more than 100 breaches of its contract with the government. Considering the size of the fines, how much was that contract worth?

Or we could consider the fiasco that is Universal Credit. How many billions has that cost by now? I reported on this in 2013 and costs have spiralled upwards exponentially since then.

My report on Universal Credit also mentions that “Michael Gove’s Education Department is now in a terrible mess because he brought in a gang of “advisors” to operate “above” his officials – who have meanwhile faced huge cuts in their workforce and a disastrous fall in morale” and refers to a report on This Site in June of that year.

Who took the blame for the private enterprise failures in the DWP and Education? The Civil Service.

In my June 2013 report, I described the policy as: “Blame the Civil Service for everything, cut it back, and leave the actual mechanics of government unusable by anybody who follows them.

Well, it seems I was right.

And now the Tories are reaping what they have sowed. Their scorched-earth civil service policy has cost them billions and they are still in office to take the blame for it.

Except, of course, that their client journalists in papers like the FT are happy to spin it into a story about a shiny new organisation to save the day, rather than admit it’s just an attempt to revive an old service they ran into the ground.

Well, we’ve all seen through it:

Source: Johnson wants a ‘Crown Consultancy’ to stem private sector spending spree

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Is Boris Johnson hoping we’ll forget bullying claims against Priti Patel? We won’t!

Priti smug as usual: but Ms Patel may have the smirk wiped off her face if the report into alleged bullying – by her – in three different government departments is published in full.

Downing Street is refusing to publish a full report into bullying claims against Priti Patel – and has postponed it until after the summer.

It is nearly a week since the Prime Minister’s office said he had decided he would not allow the full report to be seen by the public.

What does Johnson – let alone Patel – have to hide?

At the time, Boris Johnson’s spokesman refused to say whether the report would be published before Parliament went into recess. Well, that happened on Wednesday (July 23) so now we know the answer.

By now, you should know the story: Patel faces allegations of bullying while she was working in three different government departments – including the Home Office, where former Permanent Secretary Sir Phillip Rutnam says he was the victim of a “vicious and orchestrated” campaign against him.

He has launched legal proceedings against her for unfair dismissal, so it seems whatever Downing Street allows to be published may be answered in court.

The report has already been long-delayed by Mr Johnson – as was the so-called “Russia Report” which revealed that successive Tory governments including his own had avoided investigating interference in the UK’s democracy by Russia, while allowing oligarchs from that country to launder money here.

It has been claimed that the delay has been caused by a spat between Johnson and the senior civil servant carrying out the inquiry, Helen MacNamara.

He allegedly refused to publish it unless it cleared Ms Patel completely, while she was allegedly resisting this outcome.

Downing Street’s comment on July 20 suggests that Johnson now wants to publish those parts of the report that clear Ms Patel. It must be nice for her to think that parts of it do.

But the fact that it still hasn’t seen the light of day suggests that Ms MacNamara remains firmly opposed to any presentation that may distort the full facts of the matter.

But it seems she is being moved to another Whitehall department, suggesting that Johnson is getting her out of the way – in favour of a civil servant he can bully?

This Writer thinks this report is being subjected to political interference and the public should push for it to be published in full, including all findings – good or bad.

Source: Priti Patel ‘bullying’ report will not be published in full, Downing Street says – Mirror Online

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Let’s ALL show our support for this whistleblower dismissed by DWP

Whistleblower: Enrico La Rocca deserved protection as a whistleblower but the DWP ignored that in order to sack him.

The PCS union has asked for members to send messages of support to a whistleblower after the Department for Work and Pensions broke rules by dismissing him.

Perhaps we should all do the same?

Would that send an appropriate message?

Here’s the story:

The DWP dismissed Enrico La Rocca, an employee for more than 27 years, then working in Preston Carers’ Allowance unit, in May.

Mr La Rocca had highlighted serious concerns about the department’s handling of CA overpayments over a number of years.

His concerns were taken up by the National Audit Office (NAO), whose investigation resulted in a report revealing that the DWP’s own 2019 internal audit had found two-thirds of earnings-related CA overpayments over £2,500 could have been stopped earlier, if DWP officers had looked at all the data-matching alerts produced by its systems.

A subsequent Work and Pensions Select Committee report into these concerns said the DWP was “culpable” for the Carers Allowance overpayments due to “administrative failure”

The committee’s chair referred to “shocking ineptitude” in the handling of the overpayments.

The committee recommended that the department should write off the overpayments, rather than continue to prosecute claimants.

The DWP took little action to address these concerns, so Mr La Rocca sought to have them taken up as a whistleblowing complaint by the Civil Service Commission.

This was refused, due to a lack of a proper internal investigation by the DWP; the commission refused to consider the whistleblowing complaint until the department responded to the concerns internally.

Meanwhile, concerned by media reports of claimants having cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) despite the DWP’s failures to address these serious issues, Mr La Rocca contacted the Crown Prosecution Service to ask for disclosure of the NAO report to the court – in order to ensure a just decision could be made.

It was this – the effort to contact the CPS and request that the NAO report, already in the public domain, was shared with the court – that was used by DWP as justification for his dismissal.

As far as the PCS union is concerned, Mr La Rocca’s decision to contact the CPS was part of ongoing whistleblowing, addressing a clear and legitimate concern.

Therefore he should have been provided with whistleblower protection and not dismissed, according to the union.

PCS is supporting Mr La Rocca in challenging his dismissal, taking legal advice on his behalf to seek his reinstatement via an Employment Tribunal.

In its story, PCS has requested that any branches wishing to pass on messages of support to Mr La Rocca and his branch in opposing what the union’s members believe is an unfair and unwarranted dismissal can email either [email protected] or [email protected]

As a former Carers’ Allowance recipient who has just been contacted – nine months after I closed my claim – by the DWP, seeking details of my earnings during the period of my claim, I’m quite keen to send my own support to this man – who was obviously doing valuable work.

How about you?

Source: Whistleblower dismissed by DWP | Public and Commercial Services Union

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Priti Patel bullying claims aren’t as dead as we’ve been led to believe

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson: allies against the civil service?

Isn’t this interesting?

Way back at the end of April, we were all being told that Priti Patel would be cleared of all allegations that she bullied civil servants in three separate government departments

Yes, the claim prompted condemnation of the Cabinet Office inquiry process, which is conducted in secret and offers no recourse for complainants.

And Boris Johnson has already been criticised for compromising the process by insisting, before the inquiry had concluded, that he would continue to support Patel.

When This Site published a story about it, I wrote that the courts had yet to hear the case of Sir Philip Rutnam, the former permanent secretary to the Home Office, who had brought a case of constructive dismissal against Ms Patel.

I pointed out that the whole Cabinet Office inquiry process would be brought into question if the courts find against Ms Patel.

Now it seems the result of the inquiry has been delayed by the senior civil servant carrying it out, Helen MacNamara, after she heard evidence supporting Sir Philip’s claims.

Here’s The Independent (because The Times is behind a paywall):

The Times has reported a stand-off between Ms MacNamara, the Cabinet Office’s head of propriety and ethics, and her political masters.

The article suggested the inquiry report will never be published, unless the prime minister is able to say the investigation found no conclusive evidence of bullying, an outcome that Ms MacNamara is resisting.

It would be corrupt if the government suppressed the inquiry’s report to save the blushes of a bullying cabinet member.

If Patel has behaved inappropriately towards civil servants in the Home Office, Department of Work and Pensions and Department of International Trade, then she should be removed from any position of responsibility.

Basically, she should be sacked in disgrace.

If Boris Johnson, the prime minister, is shown to have tried to exert undue influence to prevent the facts from reaching the public, then he should resign.

No wonder the Labour Party – and others including the FDA union that represents public service managers – is demanding the report’s release.

And the court case still hasn’t taken place. What will Johnson do about that?

Source: Labour demands release of Priti Patel bullying report, amid claims of ‘political interference’ | The Independent

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Now it seems DWP bosses have abandoned social distancing for boozy parties

Greenock Job Centre Plus: It may not look like a venue for wild, drunken parties but it seems that is just what has been happening there while 1,300 Universal Credit claims piled up and the rest of us endured social distancing rules that DWP bosses flouted.

They just can’t help themselves, can they?

Bosses at the Job Centre in Greenock followed the example of their Tory bosses like Dominic Cummings and decided to hold boozy parties instead of handling the 12 per cent surge in Universal Credit claims.

But their abandonment of lockdown led instead to a dressing-down, and then they were frogmarched out of the office after a whistleblower informed Department for Work and Pensions bosses in London.

It seems the alleged parties took place in offices adjoining the main public ­reception areas of the facility at Greenock Jobcentre Plus while staff had been working from home during the lockdown period when an ­additional 1300 people in the area were forced to apply for Universal Credit from that office.

What a disgrace. But it is what we have come to expect from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Daily Record quotes a ‘source’ as follows:

“The allegation is that managers in Greenock had at least two social gatherings where people were having a drink and abandoning any efforts to apply social distancing. They were effectively accused of using their work office as a place to gather socially and let their hair down, at a time when people from different ­households were banned from doing so.

“This will cause a lot of anger because the DWP has been ­sanctioning people left, right and centre in Greenock, which is an unemployment blackspot.

“There are ­undoubtedly going to be busy times ahead for the staff at the centre and the last thing they need is this massive dent in the public ­perception of them.

“You can’t have managers at such a highly charged, public-facing facility thinking it’s one rule for them and one for people who are on benefits

The DWP says an investigation is under way, which is bad news for the office bosses concerned.

They are not high-ranking enough for the Tories to want to save, and the government desperately needs to show that it can get a grip on the rule-breaking that has been rife among its people while the rest of us have been enduring lockdown and social distancing.

Heads will roll.

Source: DWP bosses suspended after allegations of boozy parties during lockdown – Daily Record

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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