UK Home Secy Priti Patel's Former Aide Received 25,000 Pounds Payout over Bullying Allegations: Report
File photo of UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
London: Embattled UK Home Secretary Priti Patel was hit with a fresh allegation related to her ministerial role in the past on Tuesday as it emerged that her former aide received a 25,000 pounds payout from the government in 2015 after claiming she was bullied by the then employment minister.
The Indian-origin minister, who is under pressure to quit as home secretary since the resignation of her top civil servant amid allegations of bullying, denied the charges and received the backing of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as being a "fantastic" minister.
According to legal documents seen by the BBC, an unnamed junior employee in the Department of Work and Pension (DWP) brought a formal complaint of bullying and harassment against the department, including Patel as the employment minister at the time, after being dismissed from her role in October 2015.
The DWP did not admit liability and the case did not come before any employment tribunal but the staff member alleged that she was told the decision to dismiss her was not made on performance grounds but because Patel did not "like [her] face", according to comments attributed to her line manager and a colleague.
The female staff member allegedly took an overdose of prescription medication in the office and later took another overdose at home in what is described as an attempt to kill herself and was rushed to a hospital where she spent the night in resuscitation, according to the documents.
A source close to Patel has told the BBC that she is "unaware of any complaint being made".
The latest allegation comes after Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told the House of Commons on Monday that, under the ministerial code of conduct, an inquiry has been launched to establish the facts but spoke vehemently in Patel's defence.
"The Prime Minister has expressed his full confidence in her and having worked closely with the Home Secretary over a number of years, I have the highest regard for her. She is a superb minister and is doing a great job," Gove said.
But the Opposition has mounted pressure on the government to widen the scope of the inquiry and also demanded that Patel steps down while it is conducted.
"We want a genuine lawyer-led inquiry and something that can be seen to be independent," said Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary.
"I'm afraid it would be better if she stepped down. We are calling on her to step down whilst the inquiry goes on,"Abbott added.
The latest set of allegations will add further pressure after Sir Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary in the UK Home Office, resigned with an explosive television statement saying he will take the government to court over his unfair exit.
"I have received allegations that her [Patel] conduct has included shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands, behaviour that created fear and needed some bravery to call out," he had claimed.
A spokesperson for the UK government said "All ministers are subject to the ministerial code. We do not comment on an individual personnel matters."