Priti Patel has been accused of trying to oust her most senior civil servant in a furious "bullying" row.
The Home Secretary reportedly demanded the removal of her permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam, who is said to have raised concerns about her behaviour, and another senior official.
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.
Downing Street today declined to comment on whether it will look into the claims, instead referring press questions to the Home Office.
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 as of this morning.
According to the Times, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill has been dragged into the row after what a source called a "completely unsustainable" situation that "was going to blow up".
A source told the newspaper: "Sir Philip and [she] have fundamental disagreements about the rule of law. He's committed and she isn't. She's belittled him and caused consternation." Another source claimed the atmosphere was "toxic".
A source close to Ms Patel hit back, telling The Times: "The Home Office is dysfunctional and the current permanent secretary had presided over a sacking of a home secretary and accidental deportations.
“If this were any other environment Philip Rutnam would not only be sacked he’d be denied a pension.
"The lack of accountability in the civil service is deeply troubling and the prime minister will not accept this in the long term.”
Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said she was "no bully". He told LBC: "I've known Priti for 25 years. She's utterly professional, works night and day to deliver for the country and her constituents.
"I don't think she is [a bully] at all. I've worked for Priti in the past on several campaigns. I've known her literally for 25 years. She is a brilliant, collegiate, team player."
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We have not received any formal complaints and we take the welfare of our staff extremely seriously.”
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