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High Court to look at PM's Patel 'bullying' decision

By Justin Parkinson
Political reporter, BBC News

7 days ago

The High Court has decided to look into Boris Johnson's decision that Home Secretary Priti Patel did not break Whitehall rules over bullying.

The prime minister kept Ms Patel in post last year after he found she had not breached the ministerial code, which sets behavioural standards.

But the FDA senior civil servants' union, which brought the case, argued that Mr Johnson had "erred".

The court will now give a full hearing into its claims against him.

The government opposed taking the case forward in this way, saying the ministerial code was separate from the law and should remain so.

In November, an inquiry carried out by the prime minister's head of standards, Sir Alex Allan, found that Ms Patel had "unintentionally" broken the ministerial code.

Her approach to staff had "on occasions... amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt" by individuals, it added.

But it said the home secretary - who offered a "fulsome apology" - had sometimes "legitimately... not always felt supported" by others within the Home Office.

Analysis box by Dominic Casciani, home and legal correspondent

This decision is a really big deal.

Ministers are appointed in the name of the monarch - and can be sacked on a prime ministerial whim.

The civil servants who work under them are however hired under normal employment law - with all the protections against bad treatment that come with it.

The ministerial code, which Priti Patel was accused of breaking, is therefore somewhere in between a workplace policy booklet and a set of political aspirations for good governance.

The FDA's argument is that the elements of the code on bullying - and a judgement on whether someone has been victimised - must be open to scrutiny under employment law.

Why does this matter?

Well, if the FDA wins the case, it would be an absolute first.

Some of the prime minister's conduct may be open to scrutiny under employment law, as if he were any other kind of boss.

And that would probably be a massive constitutional question for the Supreme Court which could be asked to redefine the boundary between politics and the law.

2px presentational grey line

It is the prime minister's job to decide, ultimately, whether there has been a breach of the ministerial code - and Mr Johnson said he did not think Ms Patel had been guilty of one.

Choosing to keep her in post, he said she was not a "bully" and there had been "mitigating" circumstances behind her behaviour.

The inquiry's author - the prime minister's standards adviser, Sir Alex Allan - resigned following the decision and has not yet been replaced.

Sir Alex Allan
image captionSir Alex Allan, pictured here in 2012, quit as Boris Johnson's independent adviser on the ministerial code

In the High Court, the FDA accused the government of using a "ragbag of arguments" to suggest Mr Johnson's decision should not go to a full review, rather than "identifying any clear rule or principle".

It added that there has been a "misunderstanding" of the term "bullying" by Mr Johnson.

After the judgement, FDA general secretary Dave Penman said he was "very pleased", adding: "The ministerial code is the only means by which civil servants can raise complaints against the conduct of ministers and it is vital that decisions on this are subject to the rule of law."

The government said it was unable to comment on an ongoing case.

The prime minister has previously said that he has full confidence in Ms Patel and considers the matter closed.


What is the ministerial code?

  • Government document setting out "expected standards" of behaviour in office, including "consideration and respect" for civil servants and other colleagues
  • Ministers are normally expected to resign if they are found to have broken the code
  • Ministers who have stepped down include Liam Fox, over taking a friend and lobbyist on official trips, and Mark Field, who grabbed a climate protester
  • The code has existed since the Second World War but was not made public until 1992
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Thousands face the boot in UK-India deal after Britain agrees to accept more students and talented young immigrants in exchange for increased deportations

  • Number of illegal Indian migrants being deported from the UK is set to soar 
  • At least 40,000 undocumented migrants from subcontinent are living in Britain
  • The UK will accept more students and talented young people from India 
  • Mobility and Migration Agreement will allow young Britons to work in India 


PUBLISHED: 01:42, 5 May 2021 | UPDATED: 08:24, 5 May 2021


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The number of illegal Indian migrants being deported from the UK is set to soar under a major deal signed yesterday.

At least 40,000 undocumented migrants from the subcontinent are living in Britain, but the figure may be as high as 100,000, according to Home Office estimates.

As part of the deal, the UK will accept more students and talented young people from India.


The Mobility and Migration Agreement will also allow young Britons to work in India. Home Secretary Priti Patel signed the deal with India’s foreign minister. She said the ‘landmark agreement’ would provide new opportunities for young Britons and Indians to ‘live, work and experience each other’s cultures’.

The number of illegal Indian migrants being deported from the UK is set to soar under a major deal called the Mobility and Migration Agreement, signed by Priti Patel (pictured) yesterday

The number of illegal Indian migrants being deported from the UK is set to soar under a major deal called the Mobility and Migration Agreement, signed by Priti Patel (pictured) yesterday

But she added: ‘This agreement will also ensure the British Government can remove those with no right to be in UK more easily and crack down on those abusing our system.’ Deportations to India stand at 2,000 a year, but insiders believe they could soon hit tens of thousands. 

The deal, the first of its kind, was signed by Miss Patel and India’s foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar yesterday.

Under the deal, Delhi has agreed to make it easier to provide travel documents for Indian nationals living illegally in the UK, as well as increasing the timescale for deportations.

Young professionals aged 18 to 30 from both countries will be able to gain work visas for up to two years.

More Indian nationals will also be able to study here.

According to most recent data, more than 53,000 students from India came to the UK to study last year, up 42 per cent on the previous year. 

As part of the deal, the UK will accept more students and talented young people from India and will also allow young Britons to work in India (stock image)

 As part of the deal, the UK will accept more students and talented young people from India and will also allow young Britons to work in India (stock image)

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We've saved fojis a few times, let them jump over the wall and hide in the garden etc   people do that on our street.

There were some fojis building someones house and the police came looking for them. My mums mate from down the road hid them in her house. But her miserable old White neighbour came out and told the police that she's hid them in her house! So the police knocked on my mums friends door and said they need to look inside because she's hiding illegal immigrants. But my mums friend didn't let them in and she started arguing with the police and said they have no right to check her house. The police left and didnt come back! lol


The police are bullies, pushing their weight around.

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38 minutes ago, puzzled said:

She always has a cheeky smirk on her face. 

Every time i see her face and name just makes by skin crawl.

Also most Indian immigrants are Panjabi. They're going to target Panjabis and exchange for South Indians. We are here and over there in danger

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17 minutes ago, Kau89r8 said:

Targeting Panjabis and put them in jail in India, whilst they allow IT Indians to flow in 

I hope certain sections of the community who seem to have a proclivity to deify angreezis finally wake up and see where they really stand now. 

On the flipside, apnay themselves (backhome crew) need to sort themselves out, and stop sending uneducated pendus to work on building sites here. I met an educated apna here recently (graduate from GNU, Amritsar, working as a programmer), so it is possible! 

And people in Panjab need to confront the lack of economic development there, and give the "It's all f**ked, and nothing can be done about it!" attitude a miss. 

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