Allies of Priti Patel (pictured in London this week) have angrily denied that she has been snubbing Home Office mandarin Sir Philip Rutnam
Priti Patel’s allies today angrily denied that she has been snubbing Home Office mandarin Sir Philip Rutnam – saying he failed to turn up for a meeting with the Cabinet minister yesterday.
Claims of a bitter feud have been threatening to throw the department into chaos, with Ms Patel facing a wave of hostile briefing after reports she was trying to oust Sir Philip.
In the latest allegations, The Times said Ms Patel has been avoiding one-on-one meetings with the permanent secretary for more than a week, with the situation branded ‘utterly dysfunctional’.
However, a senior source told MailOnline that the claims were ‘total b******s’. A meeting is said to have been in the diary for yesterday that Sir Philip was due attend, but he ‘didn’t show’.
The source also alleged that Sir Philip ‘blocked’ the Home Office from issuing a statement that would have made clear ‘all meetings have taken place in the usual way’.
The civil servant made a rare public appearance at the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners summit in Westminster yesterday.
Asked about the meeting claim and any reasons for Sir Philip’s alleged absence, a Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Secretary and Permanent Secretary are deeply concerned about the number of false allegations appearing in the media.
“They are focused on delivering on the Home Office’s hugely important agenda, which includes creating an immigration system that works for the UK, putting more police on the streets and keeping the public safe from terrorism.”
Sir Philip Rutnam, pictured at a police summit yesterday, is alleged to have refused to obey the order because of its timing
Ms Patel is said to have wanted to get rid of Home Office director of communications Andy Tighe, pictured above. Mr Tighe later retired from the role
The internal war threatened to escalate yesterday when reports emerged that Ms Patel told Sir Philip to get rid of a senior official on Christmas Eve, but he refused.
Claims and counter-claims in Priti Patel’s Home Office war
Claim: The Home Secretary bullied and belittled staff, creating an ‘atmosphere of fear’.
Counter-claim: Allies of Ms Patel dismissed the suggestions she was a bully. Business minister Nadhim Zahawi said Ms Patel is ‘utterly professional’ and a ‘collegiate team player’.
Claim: Ms Patel was alleged to have ‘dressed down’ staff in front of their colleagues, sent ‘aggressive’ emails in the middle of the night and asked ‘why is everyone so f***ing useless’ during previous ministerial roles.
Counter-claim: Allies of the Home Secretary dismissed the allegations as ‘malicious gossip’.
Claim: Ms Patel was cut out of security briefings by MI5 and officials were not sharing as much intelligence with her as they did with her predecessors.
Counter-claim: The Home Secretary was reportedly ‘livid’ at the suggestions. Security sources said reports they did not have a ‘strong working relationship are simply untrue’.
Claim: Ms Patel tried to remove permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam from the Home Office.
Counter-claim: The Home Office has not been drawn on any of the specific claims relating to relations between Ms Patel and Sir Philip. However, the department issued a joint statement saying ‘the Home Secretary and Permanent Secretary are deeply concerned about the number of false allegations appearing in the media’.
Ms Patel is said to have instructed Sir Philip to move director of communications Andy Tighe out of the department.
But Sir Philip allegedly declined to carry out the order due to the timing of the request with Mr Tighe, a former BBC journalist, later choosing to retire from the role.
The incident, reported by the Huff Post website, was dismissed by allies of Ms Patel as ‘a complete lie’.
However, the briefing underlines the apparent deterioration in the relationship between Ms Patel and Sir Philip.
Ms Patel has reportedly tried to oust Sir Philip from his position as the department’s top civil servant, while the Home Secretary has faced allegations of bullying and belittling staff – accusations her allies have rejected.