Officials are suing Boris Johnson for NOT firing Home Secretary Priti Patel and overriding an independent report that her screaming and swearing on mandarins is tantamount to bullying
- Public service mandarins lawyers said the prime minister's failure to fire gave carte blanche.
- An independent report found that Ms. Patel's behavior towards officials was bullying
- Sir Alex Allan resigned after Mr Johnson suggested that his report be toned down
- PM went on to override Sir Alex and keep Secretary of the Interior in her post
Boris Johnson is being sued by officials for ridding Priti Patel of bullying, despite an independent report finding that she yelled at and verbally abused employees.
Public service mandarins lawyers sent an advance notice to Downing Street on Wednesday accusing the prime minister of acting illegally when he chose to stand by his home secretary and override his independent advisor.
In the letter received from The Times, Mr. Johnson is accused of "setting a damaging precedent that gives carte blanche to the kind of unacceptable behavior the Home Secretary has committed".
The action is the first step towards a judicial review that could force the government to publish the full cabinet investigation, led by Sir Alex Allan, which found that Ms. Patel's actions amounted to bullying.
Boris Johnson speaks on the Prime Minister's questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday
Home Secretary Priti Patel sat on the front benches in the House of Commons last month
Sir Alex resigned last month after Mr Johnson tried to persuade him to tone down the report.
Mr Johnson, overriding his advisor on ministerial standards, admitted that while Sir Alex had concluded that Ms. Patel's behavior could "occasionally" be described as bullying on the impact of individuals that I have "full confidence" in the Cabinet Minister and that he thought "this matter is now closed."
The legal challenge comes from the FDA union, which represents more than 500 senior officials in the Home Office.
It is argued that normal employment standards should continue to apply within government.
The legal letter sent yesterday states: "Officials in the Ministry of the Interior and beyond will rightly object to their behavior being measured against a standard of behavior and unacceptable bullying that does not appear to apply to the Interior Minister or other ministers."
The FDA union also supports Sir Philip Rutnam, who resigned as permanent secretary for the department after accusing Ms. Patel of "a malicious and orchestrated briefing campaign" against him.
Sir Philip Rutman, seen here in front of Parliament in 2019, resigned as permanent secretary to the Home Office after accusing Ms. Patel of "a malicious and orchestrated briefing campaign" against him
FDA general secretary Dave Penman told The Times that his union had been cornered by the prime minister's refusal to sanction Ms. Patel.
"In all of this sad story, the officials who were bullied by one of the most powerful people in the country have been forgotten," he said.
"Disappointed by the behavior of your minister, you have now been abandoned by the prime minister, who, ironically, is also the public service minister."
The Ministerial Code sets the standard of conduct for ministers and specifies how they must carry out their duties.
Mr Johnson, who wrote in the preface to the Code last year, said, "There must be no bullying or harassment."
The Code states that such misconduct "will not be tolerated".
Sir Alex Allan resigned last month after the Prime Minister proposed toning down his report on Ms. Patel's bullying of officials
Sir Alex noted that Ms. Patel had not always treated officials with "consideration and respect", and concluded that her approach has on occasion "amounted to what can be described as bullying in relation to the individual impact".
He said Ms. Patel "did not consistently meet the stringent requirements of the Ministerial Code" even though there was "no evidence that she was aware of the effects of her behavior".
The Home Secretary apologized and said there were "no excuses" for what happened, but highlighted Sir Alex's assessment of their awareness.
She told the BBC last month that "any disturbance I have caused is completely unintentional and, of course, at the time it says the report says that I was not made aware of problems".