Health Secretary defends Priti Patel as ‘determined and courteous’ after top official quits after bully claims

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MATT Hancock has defended Priti Patel as “determined and courteous” after claims that she bullied officials in the Home Office.

Top official Sir Phillip Rutnam resigned on Saturday and said he would take legal action against the Home Office after a campaign of attacks on him.

Priti Patel has been described as courteous and determined in her job

He fired a furious broadside at his former boss, accusing her of lying, “swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands”.

This morning the Health Secretary stuck by her.

Mr Hancock told Sky’s Sophy Ridge show: “Priti is a very determined person but she’s also very courteous.

“We know Priti is determined, that’s good in a Secretary of State.

“I very much hope we can get on and deliver the Government’s agenda. That’s what people really care about.”

He told the BBC she was probably “closer to where the public are on the issues of law and order than any home secretary in recent history”.

It came the day after HOAR revealed the pair had an explosive clash over his huge Brexit workload.

Allies of the ministry’s Permanent Secretary said he was “concerned” by the risks of having to do so much in just ten months.

The announcement comes after revelations he was on a “s*** list” of permanent secretaries No10 wants replaced.

Sir Philip, whose career spans 33 years, revealed he was offered a “financial settlement” by the Cabinet Office but rejected it in order to resign publicly and “call out” Ms Patel’s conduct.

He said he “received allegations” Ms Patel’s conduct had included “shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands, behaviour that created fear and needed some bravery to call out”.

Sir Philip said yesterday: “In the last ten days, I have been the target of a vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign.

“It has been alleged that I have briefed the media against the Home Secretary. This along with many other claims is completely false.”

Sir Philip Rutnam quit today after clashes with the Home Secretary
Sir Philip Rutnam quit yesterday after clashes with the Home Secretary

He added: “The Home Secretary categorically denied any involvement in this campaign to the Cabinet Office. I regret I do not believe her. She has not made the efforts I would expect to dissociate herself from the comments.”

Sir Philip claimed he was asked by Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to “effect a reconciliation” with Ms Patel.

He said: “Despite my efforts to engage with her, Priti Patel has made no effort to engage with me.”