Post by BrritSki Post by Serena Blanchflower
Except it now comes out that this wasn't the case and that she was
warned. Sir Philp Rutnam, the ex-Home Office permanent secretary who
resigned because of her, has said that he had warned her about her
behaviour on multiple occasions. Astoundingly, he also says that he
wasn't questioned about her by the Cabinet Office investigation.
Even more astoundingly, neither was Priti Patel interviewed according
It emerged this weekend that not one of the allegations had been put
to Ms Patel, while she had never met or spoken to Sir Alex Allan, the
Whitehall civil servant who carried out the eight-month investigation
into Ms Patel.
Sources also confirmed that some civil servants complained if Ms Patel
tried to contact them over weekends to ask for support if crises erupted.
One source said: "National security is not 9-til-5", adding that on
some weekends Ms Patel had found that "she was driving the ship
completely". They added: "That is changing."
A former adviser said: "The snowflakes in the civil service would
regularly complain about working even five minutes more than their
"Their chief complaint appears to be having to work over a weekend
when they’re on call, despite this being their job."
Under the new way of working, Ms Patel will be given a dedicated team
of officials who she can lean on for support at weekends when other
civil servants have gone home.
The top ranks of civil servants at the Home Office will be required to
submit themselves to performance reviews.
The Home Office has agreed to allowing Ms Patel to question junior
officials directly who might have day-to-day knowledge of a particular
challenge, rather than relying on information fed through more senior
One source said some civil servants had been "quite precious" about Ms
Patel's attempts to speak to staff on the frontline of the Home
I think if I'd experienced that sort of workforce I's also have
suggested they were all f***ing useless as well.
Times also quotes a friend saying she'd never encountered such
appalling racism and misogyny as at the HO.
I have no difficulty in believing any of that. I have had people like
that working under my management and one in particular was not just
****ing useless, he was a dickhead, a damaging influence and an
criticism or admonition bullying, sometimes because they seem to believe
it, sometimes wholly disingenuously. I'm also sure that PP will have
encountered plenty of racism and misogyny in the Civil Service.
However, the central issue for me is the independent report and the PM's
refusal to accept it. I don't know what went on in the Home Office, so
I can't make my own objective judgement. That's why the PM himself
appointed his independent adviser on the Ministerial Code to look into
these things - an adviser who seems to be widely respected for his
integrity. The PM himself also wrote in the Code that bullying will not
be tolerated. For him now to refuse to accept the findings of his
independent adviser that bullying took place is, to me at least,
disturbing and damaging of public confidence in politicians in general,
at a time when that confidence is something we really, really need.
There do seem to be parallels with Jeremy Corbyn's assertion that there
was no place for anti-Semitism in the Labour Party but then denying the
result of inquiries and taking little or no action when anti-Semitism
occurred. I was extremely critical of him for that and I am similarly
critical of Boris Johnson's behaviour in this case.
 I dealt with him without shouting or swearing, btw, however much and
however often I felt like it.
It's certainly not a good look, but it seems a bit strange to me; if we
are to believe the rumours that BJ wants her gone in the reshuffle why
didn't he just force her resignation now ?
I also think it is very strange that neither of the 2 key players were
interviewed. It's just about believable that Rutnam was ignored on the
basis of possible prejudice of his constructive dismissal claim, but why
ignore Patel as well ? And the findings of themselves will influence
that case. Maybe that is why the decision was taken, to make the case a
foregone conclusion is she'd had to resign.
Or maybe there's more in the report or to come out elsewhere - as I said
before, where is the corroborating evidence that Rutnam warned her
multiple times ? If that's not forthcoming it throws doubt on his claims
and makes the lack of process even more telling. Is shouting and
swearing bullying as well ? If it's every day and/or against just 1
person certainly, but if more general and less frequent ? How often
before it becomes bullying ?
Or maybe it's just a line in the sand to say that we are not going to
stand any more crap from the Civil Service. We know how they've behaved
since the time of Yes, Minister (and probably before), obstructive and
always getting their own way, but it seems that it's gone to a new level
in the last few years, possibly as a result of Brexit, but it was bad
Can you imagine how the HO would react though if they claim another
Ministerial resignation after Blunkett and Rudd and the other lesser
officials ? It would just give them carte blanche to continue to behave
as they wish.
It is certainly true that standards in public life have dropped
dramatically, if they were ever as high as we suppose. But it's not just
Ministers, it's leaky civil servants too or downright acts of defiance
like the dossier that Rutnam passed on behind Patel's back. Or Sedwill
who doesn't seem to me to be following the rules on what he can say
after leaving office.
It's a mess and I don't know what the solution is but I'd also add
respectfully Sid that our anecdotes about incompetent staff or
"bullying" managers are on a completely different scale to a hugely
important department of state that is clearly failing in many areas and
where the entire organisation seems to have been against their minister
for years, even before you add in misogyny and racism.