Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s bullying and Boris Johnson’s support for his Home Secretary Priti Patel despite the conclusion of an inquiry into these allegations.
It beggars belief that anyone at the top always gets away scot-free no matter the severity of the crime, allegation or simply put, utter incompetence. Former top civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam who was permanent secretary at the Home office, had resigned amid bullying allegations by his former Boss and took his case to the employment tribunal claiming constructive dismissal. Sir Philip Rutnam also claimed that the Home Secretary orchestrated a vicious campaign against him. He went on to also add that he had heard many claims of Ms. Patel shouting and swearing, making unreasonable demands and belittling people while doing her job.
Ms. Patel is no stranger to controversy. During her position as a cabinet minister in Theresa May’s government, she was forced to quit after conducting a series of unofficial meetings with the Israel government while holidaying in that country. As Home Secretary she even considered transferring asylum seekers to the British overseas territory of Ascension Island, an idea considered appalling, inhumane and a logistical nightmare! Due to public and internal pressure PM Boris Johnson setup an inquiry led by Sir Alex Allan to look into these allegations of bullying. Even though the inquiry conveniently found that Ms Patel had “not consistently met the high standards required by the ministerial code”, and “no evidence that she was aware of the impact of her behaviour”. Surprise! Surprise! Sir Allan in his report also mentioned that Ms. Patel did not always treat civil servants with “consideration and respect” and concluded that her approach on occasions “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals”. Am I the only one confused by this statement in his report? But Boris the dictator who is arbiter of the code, judged that Ms. Patel did not breach the rules. He continues to have “full confidence” in the Home Secretary and “considers this matter now closed”, according to a Government statement. But the killer move was not allowing the inquiry to interview Sir Philip Rutnam! The real reason why this investigation process was initiated in the first place. Sir Allan has resigned since Boris asked all his MP’s to support Priti Patel and refused to sack her.
Priti Patel was born in this country in 1972 and her parents were refugees who fled Uganda due to Idi Amin’s policy of ordering the expulsion of all Asians from the country within 90 days. Amin accused the minority Asian population of being disloyal to Ugandans, non-integration and undermining the local population. Sounds familiar? Yes! Its ironic that Ms. Patel chose to become a Tory MP, a party that despises asylum seekers and refugees. Under her very own party policies she and her family would be denied entry into the UK today.
So Boris has effectively rejected the findings of his own inquiry and in doing so set a precedent whereby a minister was going to stay in their post for the first time despite this damming report. What does this tell us about Boris the man? In simple terms; “One rule for us, and another for everyone else”.
Power corrupts, while absolute power, corrupts absolutely!
Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 27th November 2020.