Is he a bully or isn’t he?
The Guardian reckons the Department of Health’s top civil servant has received multiple complaints about Health Secretary Steve Barclay; the DoH itself says he hasn’t.
So your answer, for the moment, depends on who you trust.
It’s certainly true that the Tory government won’t want to deal with another bullying scandal so soon after Dominic Raab, and will want to discourage civil servants from acting on the precedent created by the former Deputy Prime Minister’s case.
According to the Graun,
senior civil servants in the department had privately referred to “bullying” and other “bad behaviour” by Barclay towards his staff since he joined the Whitehall department in July last year.
One source said there were “a lot of unhappy people at the Department of Health just now”, in part as a result of Barclay’s behaviour. Another said officials in his private office had “borne the brunt” of his behaviour. “Everyone finds him quite challenging,” said a third source.
Two other Whitehall sources alleged that he had regularly “blasted” staff in full view of others in the office. One of these insiders said he was “constantly angry”, which was “very difficult” for officials, who now “don’t want to have meetings with him”. Another source claimed that there were occasions were he “deliberately ignored” staff who tried to talk to him.
A separate source added: “Barclay’s style is very macho … He would say that he’s forensic. But in reality he’s a micro-manager. He hauls people over the coals and is generally a bit unpleasant.”
The BBC – ever the Tory mouthpiece – has run a story based around the government’s denials.
The Department of Health has not received any formal complaints about the behaviour of Health Secretary Steve Barclay, a spokesman has said.
Someone who has worked with him told the BBC the claims were “totally unsubstantiated and a politically motivated attack”.
Another government official said many colleagues “speak highly” of Mr Barclay and are unhappy about the briefings.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Sky News that his colleague Mr Barclay was “absolutely not” a bully.
(This on its own is probably enough to convince anyone that he is; Cleverly’s relationship with the facts has been put in doubt before, remember.)
Both The Guardian and the BBC reported that the Department of Health had said no official complaints had been received.
But that’s not what the claims in The Guardian had said. It stated that civil servants had informally complained to Chris Wormald, the department’s permanent secretary, about the way they believe they and colleagues have been treated by the Health Secretary.
And it added that the DoH
did not deny being alerted to concerns informally in the way sources described.
This could be a very clever trap set by Guardian journalists for the Tory government.
With the official denials out in the open, civil servants may be encouraged to lodge official complaints, simply from anger at having their privately-raised concerns denied.
So, by refusing to admit the existence of any complaints at all – official or unofficial, the government may have put Steve Barclay on a path to the political dustbin.
Source: Health department officials ‘raised concerns’ about Steve Barclay’s behaviour | Steve Barclay | The Guardian
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