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UK civil servant resigns over strained ties with Indian-origin Home Secretary Priti Patel

Philip Rutnam quits days after he issued joint statement with Indian-origin Home Secretary Priti Patel to quell media reports of discord between them

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London: The top civil servant in the UK Home Office at the centre of a row over a strained relationship with Indian-origin Home Secretary Priti Patel resigned from his post on Saturday and said he plans to sue the government over his “constructive and unfair” exit.

Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary in the department led by 47-year-old Patel, said there had been a vicious and orchestrated campaign against him over the last 10 days and pointed the finger of blame at the minister.

The Home Secretary (Patel) categorically denied any involvement in this campaign to the Cabinet Office. I regret I do not believe her, he said in a statement.

Even despite this campaign, I was willing to effect a reconciliation with the Home Secretary, as requested by the Cabinet Secretary on behalf of the Prime Minister. But despite my efforts to engage with her, Priti Patel has made no effort to engage with me to discuss this, the statement said.

Rutnam said his experience formed part of a wider pattern in government and that he plans to take legal action on the grounds of constructive dismissal.

I believe that these events give me very strong grounds to claim constructive, unfair dismissal, and I will be pursuing that claim in the courts. My experience has been extreme, but I consider there is evidence that it was part of a wider pattern of behaviour, his statement adds.

The resignation comes just days after he and Patel had issued a joint statement in an effort to quell media reports of discord within the Home Office.

The Home Secretary and Permanent Secretary are deeply concerned about the number of false allegations appearing in the media, a UK Home Office spokesperson said on Monday, when the government took the rare step to issue a formal statement to quash rumours circulating around the frosty relationship between the minister and her top civil servant.

Patel has been at the centre of a controversy over an alleged bullying atmosphere within her department, an allegation that has been denied and also led to Downing Street confirming that the minister has the full confidence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

These allegations will be revived again as Rutnam makes reference to it in his detailed resignation statement published in a blog for The Spectator’ magazine.

He said: One of my duties as Permanent Secretary was to protect the health, safety and well-being of our 35,000 people. This created tension with the Home Secretary, and I have encouraged her to change her behaviours.

I have received allegations that her conduct has included shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands, behaviour that created fear and needed some bravery to call out.

The bureaucrat with a 33-year career in the UK civil service said he expects his resignation could have very serious personal implications but he had chosen to turn down an offered financial settlement from the Cabinet Office to take a stand.

The UK Home Office is yet to comment on the news of Rutnam’s resignation.

Also read: Anyone but Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race, and Priti Patel is the UK’s bouncer


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  1. “shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands, behaviour that created fear “. Oh, it all boils down to slanging match between he two.

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