Priti Patel is facing fresh bullying allegations after a third senior civil servant said they were mistreated by the controversial politician when she was the secretary of state for international development.
The Guardian quotes sources claiming that the home secretary “harassed and belittled” staff in her private office in 2017.
The allegations have been denied by sources close to Patel, who is already under pressure from allegations that she bullied her permanent secretary at the Home Office and an aide in the Department for Work and Pensions. However, they will increase pressure on Boris Johnson to ask his minister to step down.
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BBC’s Newsnight has reported that the Cabinet Office was aware of the latest claims claims and a witness is willing to give evidence at Rutnam’s employment tribunal.
Patel is accused of humiliating civil servants in front of others, of putting heavy pressure in emails and of creating a general sense that “everyone is hopeless”.
The claims were described to the programme as similar to those levelled against Patel by Philip Rutnam, who resigned as Home Office permanent secretary on Saturday.
In a public statement announcing his resignation on Saturday, Rutnam alleged that Patel’s conduct had included “swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands”.
The former permanent secretary also said he would be suing the Home Office for constructive dismissal.
A spokesperson for Patel said: “The home secretary completely rejects all allegations made against her.”
A Tory source defended the embattled politician, saying: “What we are seeing is a concerted effort by certain sections of the civil service to undermine a home secretary trying to deliver what people want on crime and immigration.
“It is deeply disturbing that dark forces are trying to influence the findings of a Cabinet Office inquiry.”
Controversy has followed Patel throughout her political career. In 2017, she resigned from the cabinet after it emerged that she had scheduled meetings with Israeli officials while on holiday but had failed to officially inform the Foreign Office.
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