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TOP CIVIL SERVANT QUITS IN PATEL RIFT.

Byline: PA REPORTERS newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

THE top civil servant at the Home Office has resigned and launched a stinging attack on Home Secretary Priti Patel.

After persistent reports of a major rift between them, Sir Philip Rutnam walked out with all guns blazing, accusing Ms Patel of orchestrating a "vicious" campaign against him, of lying about her involvement in it and of creating a climate of fear in her department. His bombshell resignation led to calls from opposition MPs and the senior public servants' trade union for the Prime Minister to put a stop to what they claim is a campaign by his chief adviser Dominic Cummings to undermine the civil service.

It comes two weeks after Sajid Javid quit as Boris Johnson's Chancellor after the PM ordered him to fire his team of aides.

In his statement, Sir Philip said the campaign against him included "false" claims that he had briefed the media against the Home Secretary.

He said: "The Home Secretary categorically denied any involvement in this campaign to the Cabinet Office.

"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 said his experience "has been extreme but I consider there is evidence it was part of a wider pattern of behaviour.

"One of my duties as Permanent Secretary was to protect the health, safety and well-being of our 35,000 people.

"This created tension with the Home Secretary, and I have encouraged her to change her behaviours.

"I have received allegations that her conduct has included shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands - behaviour that created fear and that needed some bravery to call out.

"I know that resigning in this way will have serious implications for me personally - the Cabinet Office offered me a financial settlement that would have avoided this outcome.

"I am aware that there will continue to be briefing against me now I have made this decision, but I am hopeful that at least it may not now be directed towards my colleagues or the department.

"This has been a very difficult decision but I hope that my stand may help in maintaining the quality of Government in our country - which includes hundreds of thousands of civil servants, loyally dedicated to delivering this Government's agenda."

The resignation comes after simmering tensions between Ms Patel and her Permanent Secretary boiled to the surface last weekend with various reports about a rift between the two.

CAPTION(S):

Sir Philip Rutnam

Home Secretary Priti Patel DOMINIC LIPINSKI

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Author:PA REPORTERS newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 1, 2020
Words:491
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