Great Britain

Priti Patel is accused of bullying civil servants for at least five years

'A PATTERN'

HOME Secretary Priti Patel has been accused of bullying senior civil servants over the last five years.

Officials in the civil service say that they first raised concerned about her behaviour when she was an employment minister at the Department for Work and Pensions between 2015 and 2016.

Further allegations were made in 2017 when she was international development secretary amid claims of a “pattern” of unacceptable behaviour.

The allegations come after it emerged that Ms Patel had tried to oust her most senior civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, amid accusations that she had bullied and belittled officials in the department.

Downing Street said that no “formal” complaint had been made against Ms Patel and sources close to the Home Secretary said they “completely refute” the allegations.

But one senior figure in Dfid told The Times: “She was reviled in Dfid for her rudeness and insensitivity. She could not have been more hated for the way she treated people. She was just vile.”

But Nadhim Zahawi, a business minister, defended Ms Patel saying she was “utterly professional” and “works day and night”.

Asked whether the home secretary was a bully, he said: “No, I don’t think she is at all. I’ve worked with Priti in the past on several campaigns. I’ve known her literally for 25 years. She is a brilliant, collegiate team player.”

An ally of Ms Patel described the claims as “malicious gossip”.

Ms Patel entered government as a junior Treasury minister in 2014 before becoming employment minister the next year.

In 2016 she entered the cabinet as international development secretary.

A year later she was forced to resign after lying to Theresa May about a holiday she took to Israel during which she met Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, without notifying the Foreign Office.

Her political career was resurrected by Boris Johnson when he became prime minister last year and appointed her home secretary.

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