Priti Patel ‘livid and demanding leak inquiry’ over Home Office bullying storm

Top Tory Priti Patel has reportedly demanded a leak inquiry after she was engulfed in "absolute nonsense" bullying claims.

An ally told The Times the Home Secretary is "absolutely livid" at a string of hostile briefings against her over the past week – and is "determined to get to the bottom of it."

A Home Office spokeswoman declined to comment on the claim today.

According to The Times, the Cabinet Office's ethics chief Helen MacNamara has "blocked" Ms Patel's attempt to hold a leak inquiry but the Home Secretary is determined to press the issue.

This, however, was quickly denied by Cabinet Office sources who moved to say no request had been made to Ms MacNamara.

  • MI5 dragged into Priti Patel's Home Office civil war after claims spies held back info

  • Priti Patel 'left officials "trembling" with her "ruthless" behaviour as minister'

What began with claims of bullying and wanting to oust her top civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, led yesterday to the most shocking claim of all – that MI5 withhold information from her as they "don't have confidence in her abilities".

A security source hit back yesterday, saying the claims about MI5 were untrue.

And today the Home Office issued a statement on behalf of both Ms Patel and Sir Philip, her permanent secretary.

It 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."

The Home Office would not confirm if Sir Philip – who allies of Ms Patel want gone – signed off the statement.

Instead an official told the Mirror “it’s gone through all the standard Home Office procedures” and "it’s a Home Office statement”.

The unprecedented fightback comes after days of mudslinging about Ms Patel's behaviour and record.

Sources have told the Mirror officials were left "trembling" in meetings with the Home Secretary adding: "She’s very robust, very demanding and wants impossible stuff done instantly."

New Home Office Minister James Brokenshire, who rejoined government in Boris Johnson's reshuffle, said Ms Patel is "demanding" but he does not accept claims that she is a bully.

"Yes, she is demanding, but in that role you have to be because you are dealing with some of the most sensitive, some of the most challenging things that you have to deal with across Government," he told Sky News.

"I think the Home Secretary is absolutely focused on the public good, the agenda that we've set around policing, on immigration and indeed around counter-terrorism and security."

He described the reports as "absolute nonsense", but conceded that there is "huge frustration" across the Home Office around some of the "false assertions that have been made publicly".

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