London: The UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel has been accused of bullying senior civil servants over the last five years, a media report said.
The Sun newspaper in its report on Saturday quoted officials in the civil service as saying that they first raised concerns 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 report said.
The allegations come after it emerged that Patel had tried to oust her most senior civil servant, Philip Rutnam, amid accusations that she had bullied and belittled officials in the department, according to the London-based newspaper.
Meanwhile, Downing Street said that no “formal” complaint had been made against Patel and sources close to the Home Secretary said that they “completely refute” the allegations.
But a senior Department for International Development official 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 Patel saying she was “utterly professional” and “works day and night”, The Sun newspaper report said.
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.”
Patel entered the cabinet as International Development Secretary in 2016.
A year later she was forced to resign after lying to then Prime Minister Theresa May about a holiday she took to Israel during which she met Benjamin Netanyahu without notifying the Foreign Office.
When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister last year, he appointed her Home Secretary.