Sanwar Ali comment:
Whatever the truth may be about the bullying allegations, there is a very serious problem with the way that UK immigration policy is being implemented. Whose fault is this? The Government? Civil Servants? Both?
There have been numerous scandals involving UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) at the Home Office. A recent Windrush report says that the Home Office is institutionally racist. The report has been repeatedly delayed and apparently toned down. There are numerous serious problems at UKVI, Home Office that need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has been accused of bullying civil servants and creating an ‘atmosphere of fear’ inside the Home Office. Staff working for the government agency under Patel claim that she has been belittling officials, acting aggressively in meetings and making unreasonable demands of civil servants.
The allegations come following the unveiling of the government’s new UK visa and immigration system. In the build up to the announcement of the new system, Patel has been accused of pushing Home Office staff hard to ensure that post-Brexit UK visa and immigration rules were presented to the press and public as quickly as possible.
She has also been accused of forcing staff to attend late night meetings in an effort to deport foreign criminals.
The Home Secretary reportedly tried to force one of her most senior officials, Sir Philip Rutnam, out of the Home Office after he made a complaint about Patel’s behaviour.
Support for Patel from Nadhim Zahawi a UK business minister
However, a number of people have rushed to the defence of the Home Secretary, dismissing claims that Priti Patel is a bully. Nadhim Zahawi, the UK’s business minister, has known Ms Patel for 25 years and vehemently denied that she is a bully. “Priti Patel is utterly professional and a brilliant, collegiate team player,” Zahawi said.
Prior to the announcement of the new UK visa and immigration system, the Home Secretary was called ‘clueless’ after comments she made about staffing shortages, likely to be caused by the tough, new immigration system, which she said could be filled by the 8.5 million inactive Brits, most of which are students, retired or suffering from long-term illness.
Tensions inside the Home Office seemingly reached breaking point recently, following the collapse of a civil servant after a heated meeting with Patel.
The unnamed civil servant had apparently been working through the night in an attempt to overturn a High Court ruling blocking the deportation of foreign nationals to Jamaica, tied to the Windrush scandal.
It’s understood that the official was taken ill while attending another meeting and was taken to hospital, where they were diagnosed with a sodium deficiency.
Tension mounting inside Home Office
A source inside the Home Office said that Ms Patel is an ‘extraordinary person to work for. However, her behaviour has ruffled some feathers. No one has any idea how this will be resolved and it will blow up sooner or later.’
A separate source said: “Ms Patel and Sir Philip have fundamental disagreements about the rule of law. He’s committed and she isn’t. She’s belittled him and caused consternation, and she frequently encourages behaviour outside the rule of law.”
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We have received no formal complaints about the Home Secretary in connection with allegations of workplace bullying. We take the welfare of our staff extremely seriously.”
The Home Secretary has been backed by a number of allies who have dismissed the bullying allegations made against her. Many said that Patel is a ‘demanding boss’, but never acts unreasonably.
Those defending Ms Patel said: “The Home Office is dysfunctional and the current permanent secretary had presided over a sacking of a home secretary and accidental deportations.”
“If this were any other environment Philip Rutnam would not only be sacked he’d be denied a pension. The lack of accountability in the civil service is deeply troubling and the Prime Minister will not accept this in the long term,” they said.
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