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UK Visas and Immigration director general quits

Sanwar Ali comment:

There have been claims that Mark Thomson the director general of UK Visas and Immigration and HM Passport Office resigned due to Home Secretary Priti Patel.  Finding out the truth can be difficult.  Boris Johnson says he has “full confidence” in the Home Secretary Priti Patel. 

Security Minister James Brokenshire told BBC Breakfast that there were "a lot of false stories" about Ms Patel.  He also had the following to say:

"I simply do not recognise the commentary and the false accusations and assertions that in so many ways have been swirling around."

Under Mark Thomson there have been numerous serious problems and scandals at UK Visas and Immigration.  There have been allegations that the Home Office is profiting from migrants and treating them very badly.  There have also been a number of race discrimination scandals.

Mark Thomson, the director general of the Home Office’s UK Visas and Immigration department, has sensationally quit amid a series of ‘run-ins’ with Home Secretary, Priti Patel. Following the resignation of one of the Home Office’s most senior civil servants, pressure is growing on the Home Secretary who was recently accused of bullying staff.

According to sources inside the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the largest trade union for Home Office staff, Thomson resigned due to a series of major bust-ups with Patel.

Mick Jones of the PCS said: “Uncomfortable demands made by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, prompted Mr Thomson to leave his post as director general of UK Visas and Immigration and the HM Passport Office.”

It’s understood that Patel’s approach to UK immigration issues is the primary cause of Thomson’s decision to quit the Home Office.

Thomson leaves after five years as head of UK Visas

Following Priti Patel’s appointment as Home Secretary in July 2019, Thomson reportedly told colleagues that he intended to leave just one month after Patel was named as the new chief of the Home Office.

However, Home Office officials claim that Thomson’s decision to quit had nothing to do with the appointment of Patel, saying that he had decided to leave prior to her being named the new Home Secretary in order to ‘pursue other career opportunities.’

Having joined in April 2015, Thomson left after five years with the Home Office as head of the government agency’s UK Visas and Immigration department and the HM Passport Office.

Patel branded a bully by some

Following the announcement of the new, points-based UK visa and immigration system recently, Priti Patel was branded a bully by a number of Home Office civil servants. It’s alleged that she tried to force out top civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam and repeatedly made staff stay late to ensure a deportation flight, connected to the Windrush scandal, took place.

Meanwhile, following a heated meeting with the Home Secretary, another senior Home Office civil servant was reportedly taken ill after working all night to overturn a High Court ruling attempting to block the deportation flight.

Patel has been accused of bullying, belittling officials and creating an ‘atmosphere of fear.’ Mick Jones of the PCS said that he is in ‘regular contact’ with Sir Philip Rutnam. Jones said: “Sir Rutnam is on the receiving end of some harsh treatment.”

According to Jones, Ms Patel has been less than cooperative with the PCS regarding the bullying allegations made against her.

Claims that Thomson leaving is damaging to the Home Office

Pressure is building on the Home Secretary following Thomson’s departure, with his role seen as crucial to the Home Office. The government’s official website highlights the importance of Thomson’s position, stating: “Mark has responsibility for making millions of decisions every year about who has the right to visit or stay in the country.”

According to a report published by The Times, concerns about Patel’s behaviour first surfaced back in 2017, during her time as a minister for the Department of Work and Pensions.

Thomson first announced that he would be leaving the Home Office in August 2019, sending staff an email saying: “The sharp-eyed amongst you may notice that my job has been advertised today. I wanted to let you all know that after five years in the Home Office I have decided the time has come for me to move on.”

Shortly after Thomson’s email, an official Home Office statement claimed that he was leaving his post for ‘personal reasons in March 2020.’

Despite allegations of bullying by Patel, the Home Office says that no formal complaint has been made about her behaviour. Meanwhile, a number of people have jumped to Patel’s defence, describing Ms Patel as ‘very professional and demanding, but certainly not a bully.’

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