Boris Johnson’s decision not to sack Priti Patel after a report revealed evidence that she intimidated officials will be challenged in court.
The FDA union, which represents the officials, said it was initiating a judicial review to challenge Mr Johnson’s decision to disregard a November report that the Home Secretary had violated the ministerial code.
The Prime Minister rescinded the opinion of his independent advisor on ministerial standards, Sir Alex Allan, who considered that Ms Patel’s conduct “amounted to behavior which could be characterized as intimidation”, including incidents of “shouting and insults ”to staff.
Sir Alex said the cabinet minister broke the code, even though it was done “unintentionally”.
Ministers are usually expected to resign if they break the code, but Mr Johnson, who is her arbiter, has stood by Ms Patel.
Sir Alex resigned after Mr Johnson rejected his opinion.
The FDA union called the prime minister’s decision “extraordinary” in the face of evidence that Ms. Patel intimidated officials.
FDA Secretary General Dave Penman said: As a union that represents many of the staff working on a day-to-day basis with ministers, we cannot just let this issue rest.
“Public servants should expect to work with ministers without fear of intimidation or harassment.
“The Prime Minister’s warm words make no sense if the process of combating this behavior has been fundamentally undermined by his actions.
His decision, which he said reflected the Home Secretary’s assertion that his actions were unintentional, also potentially allows ministers to avoid the consequences of their behavior in the future by arguing that it should be the intention of their actions that is important, not the consequences.
Our judicial review, launched today, would seek to overturn the Prime Minister’s decision that the conduct of the Minister of the Interior did not violate the Ministerial Code.
“It is not a question of whether the Home Secretary should be forced to resign, it is the Prime Minister’s business, it is simply a question of how the Ministerial Code is interpreted.”
According to a survey of those FDA members most likely to work with ministers, nearly 90% said they did not trust the departmental code as a mechanism to counter bullying and harassment of ministers, said he declared.
Following the publication of Sir Alex’s report, Ms Patel issued a “full and unqualified apology” and said there was “no apology” for what had happened.
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