Boris Johnson sees off legal challenge over Priti Patel bullying claims

The FDA union brought the judicial review after the Prime Minister overruled his independent standards advisor Sir Alex Allan, who said the Home Secretary had broken the ministerial code

Boris Johnson has seen off a High Court challenge over his decision to back Home Secretary Priti Patel following accusations she bullied civil servants.

The FDA, which represents civil servants, brought the judicial review after the Prime Minister overruled a report into Ms Patel’s behaviour by his independent standards advisor Sir Alex Allan last year.

Sir Allex said Ms Patel’s conduct “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying” in a damning report last November.

He said this included “shouting and swearing” at her staff and ruled that she had not always treated civil servants with “consideration and respect”.

Sir Alex concluded that Ms Patel had broken the ministerial code, even if it was done “unintentionally”, for which a minister would normally be expected to resign.

Sir Alex Allan quit as independent adviser on standards after Mr Johnson ignored his report on Priti Patel


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But the Prime Minister, who is the arbiter of the ministerial code, decided to disregard Sir Alex’s advice.

Mr Johnson said the Home Secretary was “unaware” of the impact she had and he was “reassured” she was “sorry for inadvertently upsetting those with whom she was working”.

After “weighing up all the factors”, he concluded the code had not been breached.

At the time, Ms Patel issued an “unreserved, fulsome apology” and said there were “no excuses” for what happened.

Sir Alex later resigned from his post.

Lord Justice Lewis concluded in a ruling at the High Court on Monday that Boris Johnson had not misdirected himself as to the provisions of the Ministerial Code when reaching his decision.

The judge, sitting with Mrs Justice Steyn, said: “The question for this court is whether the Prime Minister proceeded on the basis that conduct would not fall within the description of bullying within paragraph 1.2 of the Ministerial Code if the person concerned was unaware of, or did not intend, the harm or offence caused.

“Reading the statement (made by Mr Johnson) as a whole, and in context, we do not consider that the Prime Minister misdirected himself in that way.”

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