Home Office boss in Priti Patel ‘bullying’ row quits after ‘vicious’ campaign

Home Office boss Philip Rutnam has quit following a public row with Priti Patel.

The senior civil servant plans to sue the government after he became embroiled in a tiff with the Home Secretary.

Sir Philip said there had been an orchestrated campaign against him.

He read a statement on BBC News which said: "I have this morning resigned as permanent secretary of the Home Office. I take this decision with great regret after a career of 33 years.

"I am making this statement now because I will be issuing a claim against the Home Office for constructive dismissal.

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"In the last 10 days I have been the target of a vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign.

"It has been alleged that I have briefed the media against the Home Secretary.

"This along with many other claims is completely false."

He added: “The Home Secretary categorically denied any involvement in this campaign to the Cabinet Office. I regret I do not believe her."

Sir Philip went on: "The Home Secretary categorically denied any involvement in this campaign to the Cabinet Office.

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"I regret I do not believe her. She has not made the effort I would expect to dissociate herself from the comments.

"Even despite this campaign I was willing to effect a reconciliation with the Home Secretary.

"But despite my efforts to engage with her, Priti Patel has made no effort to engage with me to discuss this.

"I believe these events give me very strong grounds to claim constructive, unfair dismissal and I will be pursuing that claim in the courts."

Sir Philip's decision to step down follows news of a row with Patel.

The Home Secretary reportedly demanded the removal of the permanent secretary, who is said to have raised concerns about her behaviour.

According to the Times, which revealed the allegations, multiple sources in the department have accused her of bullying.

The Times reported the row followed a series of demands from the Home Secretary, some of which officials said were “illegal”.

These were said to include questioning why police could not use force against Extinction Rebellion protesters.

Patel is also said to have told Sir Philip to fire director of communications Andy Tighe on Christmas Eve, MailOnline reported.

He allegedly declined to carry out the orders because of the timing.

The Home Office declined to say whether Sir Philip had raised concerns about the minister, whether the minister demanded his removal, whether the claims were being investigated, or whether she had raised the possibility of using force against climate protesters.

However, a spokeswoman for the department said neither it nor the Cabinet Office – which probes breaches of the Ministerial Code – had received a "formal" complaint.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA Union for senior managers and professionals, said: "Sir Philip’s decision to resign and claim constructive dismissal demonstrates once again the destructive consequences of anonymous briefings against public servants who are unable to publicly defend themselves.

"This cowardly practice is not only ruining lives and careers, but at a time when the Home Office is being tasked with delivering a demanding Government agenda on immigration, and preparing for a public health emergency, it has diverted energy and resource in to responding to unfounded accusations from sources claiming to be allies of the Home Secretary."

More to follow.

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