Humphry Wakefield accused mandarins who have squared up to Home Secretary Priti Patel of acting to protect their ‘relaxed life’
The father-in-law of Boris Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings made an astonishing intervention in the Home Office bullying row today.
Sir Humphry Tyrrell Wakefield, owner of Chillingham Castle and friend of Prince Philip, accused mandarins who have squared up to Home Secretary Priti Patel of acting to protect their ‘relaxed life’.
The aristocratic interior designer and antiques expert, 83, used a letter sent from his 13th century Northumberland castle to attack ‘relaxed disciplines’ in offices whose fans paint any attempt at changing the environment as bullying.
It came as two senior civil servants were forced out of the Home Office after clashing with Ms Patel, 47, as the row at the heart of the department showed no sign of abating.
In a missive to the Times from his home the baronet said: ‘I have worked in many long established offices around the world. Almost invariably, relaxed disciplines have become the norm.
‘I have found it near impossible to change old habits without appearing to ”bully”.
‘Throwing chilling water on attempted inspiration is a special skill of department leaders whose relaxed life is under threat.’
Sir Humphry is the father of Mr Cummings wife, the journalist Mary Wakefield. The couple married in 2011 and have one child together.
She received support from an unlikely corner this morning – the aristocratic father-in-law of Boris Johnson’s chief aide, Dominic Cummings (pictured today)
Sir Humphry’s letter in the Times today
Ms Patel is at the heart of a furious row over her treatment of staff in the department, which she has been in charge of since July
He is a friend of the Duke of Edinburgh, an antiques expert and keen horseman even at his advanced age.
In 2017 he set out to ride his horse, Barack, the length of the British Isles at the age of 81.
At the time he spoke of his love for the castle – dubbed the most haunted in Britain – saying: ‘I love it — love it like mad.
‘And the smell! It’s like returning to a stable when you haven’t seen your horse for a bit.’
He once staged a wedding for his beloved bull terrier Brigand in the castle chapel and, in 2014, caused a stir when he appeared on a Channel 4’s Can’t Get The Staff, complaining how tricky it was to find staff to help with the upkeep.
Sir Humphrey is a friend of the Duke of Edinburgh, an antiques expert and keen horseman even at his advanced age
His own family pile in the Lake District was sold by an uncle for flats, and so in 1982 he bought Chillingham.
He spent spent 20 years single-handedly restoring it to the fury of Katherine, his third wife and Mary’s mother.
‘I was a maniac to take it on,’ he said in 2017.
‘She wouldn’t set foot in it for ten years.’
In a missive to the Times from his home, Chillingham Castle (pictured) the baronet said: ‘ I have worked in many long established offices around the world. Almost invariably, relaxed disciplines have become the norm’
After breaking five ribs in 2014 aged 78, Sir Humphry Tyrell Wakefield rode the length of the nation in 2017 (pictured)
Ms Patel is at the heart of a furious row over her treatment of staff in the department, which she has been in charge of since July.
The 47-year-old’s opponents have accused her of bullying staff, while her supporters say she is tough and wants to get results.
A top official working in police oversight transferred to the Department of Transport and a member of the Home Secretary’s private office left their post in recent weeks, the Times reported.
Lord O’Donnell, who was Cabinet Secretary during the New Labour Cameron governments, attacked political attacks on Civil Servants, telling the paper: ‘The ideal relationship between a minister and a senior civil servant is one of creative tension.
‘The last thing you want is a permanent secretary who is a yes man or woman – that is not good for the secretary of state or the government.
‘This goes wrong if such tension results in private briefings against the permanent secretary. Trust breaks down and all lose.’
Yesterday Britain’s top civil servant tried to end the toxic briefing war engulfing Ms Patel at the Home Office.