Priti Patel is no stranger to controversy.
Remember that time she was forced to resign as International Development Secretary for running her own foreign policy arrangements (which included lots of secret meetings on a “family holiday” to Israel) and we all tracked her flight back to the UK? That was fun.
Oh, and there was that time where she said the death penalty was an effective deterrent for crime (which she’s since walked back on) and that the government isn’t responsible for poverty (she hasn’t yet retracted that one, as far as we know).
Well in the days before the pandemic hit, which feels like forever ago, Patel found herself in the centre of bullying accusations from her time at various government departments, including the Home Office. The most senior Home Office civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, resigned and announced plans to sue the government, launching an attack on Patel. It was very dramatic.
As pressure mounted following the accusations, there was huge pressure on Patel to resign. But she held firm and eventually coronavirus distracted everyone so the issue stopped being a priority.
Well now an internal investigation has reportedly “cleared” Patel of the bullying accusations.
According to to The Daily Telegraph, an investigation carried out by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, was completed in the last week and was handed to Boris Johnson on Monday when he returned to work.
An unidentified source told the paper that they had found “nothing” to suggest that the allegations were true.
Patel has not commented on the investigation’s reported findings, but she’s always denied the bullying allegations so they will surely be welcome.
On social media, Tories have been welcoming Patel being “cleared” and they’re taking the opportunity to demand an apology from anyone who suggested there was truth to the allegations.
Some have even accused people who believed the allegations of being the "real bullies".
It's worth pointing out that an investigation is different to an employment tribunal and Rutman's legal action is ongoing.
The news comes just days after Rutman said he had begun formal legal proceedings after he accused Patel of bullying and launched a claim for constructive dismissal. He alleged that the Home Secretary waged a “vicious and orchestrated” briefing campaign against him. She denies this.
It’s unclear what the timeline for these proceedings will be, or whether the findings of the investigation reported by the Telegraph will be made public.