Britain's top civil servant in the Home Office, Sir Philip Rutnam, on February 29 has resigned and reportedly said that he intends to sue the government for constructive dismissal. According to international media reports, Rutnam said that he was stepping down because he had become the target of 'vicious and orchestrated campaign' against him in Home Secretary Priti Patel's office. However, Patel has denied any involvement in the campaign to the Cabinet Office.
Rutnam's resignation also comes after reported tensions between the pair and allegations that Patel mistreated officials and tried to remove Rutnam from her department. Rutanam in a statement also said that he had tried to reconcile the situation with Patel, but despite his efforts, Rutnam said that Patel made no efforts to engage with him to discuss the situation. According to reports, Rutnam said that he even received allegations that Patel's misconduct towards included swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands.
Rutnam has worked in government for 33 years and he believes that Patel's behaviour had created fear and needed some bravery to call out. He reportedly said that it was his duty to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of 35,000 Home Office workers, however, he further added that doing so had 'created tension' between him and Patel. Furthermore, he said that his experience was 'extreme' but part of a 'wider pattern' in government.
As per reports, Downing Street has, however, backed Priti Patel saying the Prime Minister has 'full confidence' in the Home Secretary and intelligence is not being withheld from her. Earlier this week, Priti Patel reportedly even demanded a leak inquiry following the allegations that appeared in various media reports. Patel ordered that a formal leak inquiry be carried out by Helen MacNamara, who is the director-general of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office. However, further reports suggest that MacNamara has blocked the request made by the Home Secretary.
Priti Patel was appointed the Home Secretary by Prime Minister Boris Johnson following a cabinet reshuffle that took place on February 13. Along with Patel, other members of Parliament who were brought to the front benches by the Prime Minister are Rishi Sunak, who replaced Sajid Javed as the new Finance Minister, Oliver Dowden, Brandon Lewis, and Alok Sharma.