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Government’s ‘substantial’ payout to civil servant after Patel bullying claims

Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
·3-min read

The Government is understood to have agreed a “substantial” payout to settle a top civil servant’s employment tribunal claim after he quit amid allegations of Priti Patel’s bullying.

Home Office chief Sir Philip Rutnam is reported to have accepted a six-figure sum after launching legal action against the Home Secretary.

The department’s former permanent secretary dramatically resigned in February last year, accusing Ms Patel of a “vicious and orchestrated” briefing campaign against him, claiming constructive dismissal and accusing Ms Patel of bullying her subordinates.

A 10-day employment tribunal to hear Sir Philip’s case was due to take place in September.

In a statement issued via the FDA Union on Thursday, Sir Philip said: “I am pleased to say that the Government has today settled the claims that I brought against them and which were due to be heard in an employment tribunal in September.

“This settlement resolves my own case. The FDA is continuing to pursue in separate proceedings the wider issues that have been raised.

“I now look forward to the next stages of my career.”

The Government said it “regrets the circumstances” surrounding his resignation but added that both parties were “pleased that a settlement has been reached to these proceedings.”

In a separate statement, the Home Office insisted the Government did not accept liability.

A spokesman said: “The Government and Sir Philip’s representatives have jointly concluded that it is in both parties’ best interests to reach a settlement at this stage rather than continuing to prepare for an employment tribunal.

“The Government does not accept liability in this matter and it was right that the Government defended the case.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners joint summit
Former Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam has settled his tribunal claim (Helen William/PA)

Neither the Home Office nor the union would disclose the amount of the settlement but it is understood to be a “substantial” sum.

At the time of his resignation, Sir Philip said he had received allegations Ms Patel’s conduct had included “shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands – behaviour that created fear and that needed some bravery to call out”, adding that the Cabinet Office had already offered him a financial settlement.

He later said he was not interviewed for an inquiry into Ms Patel’s behaviour, which found she had bullied staff.

The Prime Minister’s adviser on ministerial standards Sir Alex Allan resigned when the Prime Minister overruled his conclusion that Ms Patel breached the ministerial code.

The FDA, which represents senior civil servants, has bemoaned the lack of an independent complaints process for ministers.

The union has now launched a judicial review in a bid to overturn Boris Johnson’s decision to stand by Ms Patel amid the bullying furore and disregard Sir Alex’s findings.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, who has written to Ms Patel demanding answers on how much the case has cost the taxpayer, accused the Prime Minister of “terrible judgment”.

He added: “Taxpayers will be appalled at having to pick up the bill for the Home Secretary’s unacceptable behaviour.

“The Home Secretary still has very serious questions to answer about her conduct and the FDA union’s legal case continues.”