Home Secretary Priti Patel ‘deeply concerned’ by ‘false allegations’


Priti Patel and Boris JohnsonImage copyright

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Priti Patel has been home secretary since Boris Johnson became prime minister

The home secretary has criticised “false” media reports following claims of distrust from MI5 bosses and bullying, the Home Office has said.

Priti Patel was accused last week of trying to force out the most senior civil servant in her department.

And the government has denied MI5 had held back information from Ms Patel, following reports that officials lacked confidence in her abilities.

Ms Patel was “concerned” by the number of recent claims, the Home Office said.

A spokesman said Ms Patel and Sir Philip Rutnam, who has been the Home Office’s permanent secretary since April 2017, were “deeply concerned about the number of false allegations appearing in the media”.

He added the pair were focused on delivering their department’s “hugely important agenda” such as an overhaul of the immigration system, putting more police officers on the streets and combating terrorism.

The statement comes after a source told the BBC that Downing Street had been asked to intervene to move Sir Philip.

The source added that there had been no animosity or “blazing rows” between Ms Patel and Sir Philip but they were simply “not the right fit”.

  • Priti Patel ‘tried to force out top civil servant’
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Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Stephen Crabb told Radio 4’s Westminster Hour Ms Patel was “tough” and “robust” but that he had seen no evidence of the behaviour she had been accused of.

The Home Office said “no formal complaints” had been made about Ms Patel, who has been home secretary since Boris Johnson became prime minister.

‘Strong working relationship’

The Sunday Times later claimed the home secretary has not been receiving the same security and intelligence briefings as her predecessors because MI5 officials do not trust her.

A government spokesman said Ms Patel and MI5 had “a strong and close working relationship, and baseless claims to the contrary are both wrong and against the public interest”.

They added that no information was being withheld from her and she “receives the same daily intelligence briefings as her predecessors”.

The Times reported that a “livid” Ms Patel has asked for a inquiry to be carried out into how the “hostile briefings” about MI5 happened – although Cabinet Office sources said no such request has been made.

The allegations come alongside reports of tensions between the civil service and the government over recruitment and treatment of staff.

The Cabinet Office is recruiting a new civil servant to oversee HR policy for government ministers’ special advisers.

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