WATCHING the television programme Yes, Minister in the 1980s allowed viewers to enjoy a satirical slant on the workings of government departments wherein the civil service invariably manipulated ministers into following their own plans of action, regardless of government policy.

The reality of working with the present team of UK Government ministers, and in particular the Home Secretary, must seem a tad more sinister, stressful and not a little intimidating following the conclusions of the independent report into Priti Patel’s alleged bullying of staff.

WATCH: Rishi Sunak defends 'entirely kind' Priti Patel after bullying report

The investigation was instigated primarily by the resignation of Sir Philip Rutnam, the leading Home Office civil servant who claimed that he had been the victim of a vicious and orchestrated campaign against him by the Home Secretary and that, contrary to Ms Patel’s allegations, she indeed had been warned about her behaviour previously. It seems inconceivable that Rutnam was not invited to contribute evidence to the report given he was a witness to and victim of the Home Secretary’s alleged bullying behaviour.

However, contentions that Priti Patel has belittled and bullied senior civil servants will not come as a shock to anyone who has followed her career. Ms Patel is a ruthless and unscrupulous politician who will not tolerate any opposition to her Thatcherite philosophy or to the implementation of her right-wing views. Her long-standing, vociferous and aggressive support for the tobacco lobby as well as her support for the dismantling of the present welfare state are well known.

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When appointed International Development Secretary in 2016 by then Prime Minister, Theresa May, Ms Patel employed a punitive approach to international aid that led to a great deal of friction between her and her team of civil servants. Her aberrant individual meetings with the Israeli Government in 2017 ended in her resignation, but showed that she was willing to ignore all advice from her advisers and act outside conventional government protocol to try and achieve her own morally questionable aims in foreign relations.

The civil service is now dealing with a significant group of government ministers who, like Ms Patel, will not play by conventional rules or hold genuinely accepted democratic principles. Under a Prime Minister who appears to relinquish any moral responsibility or ethical leadership, senior ministers like the Home Secretary appear to have carte blanche to drive their own amoral agenda forward without restraint.

Boris Johnson, ironically during England’s anti-bullying week, has unreservedly backed his minister despite the report concluding that she had broken the ministerial code over her conduct towards civil servants. The Prime Minister’s adviser on the ministerial code, Sir Alex Allen, has made his position clear by handing in his resignation, yet another transparent sign that the heart of this Westminster government is unprincipled and utterly dishonourable.

Perhaps the Home Secretary put Mr Johnson’s arm up his back and threatened to take his lunch money if he dared to sack her. Nothing would surprise me with this hapless Conservative administration.

Owen Kelly

THE head of the bullying inquiry quits as the Prime Minister says he did not think Ms Patel was a bully, despite the inquiry finding otherwise. Boris Johnston notes that Ms Patel has made a “full and frank apology”. One wonders what then this full and frank apology is for.

I am reminded of the quote “in matters of style blow with the wind, in matters of principle be solid as a rock”. Perhaps you need to actually have some principles in order for this to apply to you. It would appear the Prime Minister doesn’t have any, or that the principle for him is to defend the atrocious behaviour of a colleague no matter what.

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So the head of the inquiry quits, the bully is protected and smirks the way bullies do when they get away with breaching ministerial codes (not to mention decent standards of basic humanity). Lots of people have high-pressure jobs. Bullying can never be justified, as I have heard many Conservative MPs try to do. The impact on those bullied is well documented.

For all that Boris Johnson’s decision is appalling, no-one will be surprised at this abrogation of his duty and responsibility. Yet again the bullies win. The UK Government states proudly that it won’t tolerate bullying and harassment. Its actions say otherwise, so yet another case of one rule for the people and a different one for the Tories. Perhaps the time has come to make bullying and harassment in the workplace a criminal offence like other forms of abuse, and let the police and prosecution service decide if action needs to be taken.

Professor Alan Boyter
Cairndow, Argyll

IF you have committed some sort of misdemeanor there are two basic types of apology:

1. You apologise for your actions and for the hurt and offence that your actions have caused.

2. You express “your deepest regret” (or any other bundle of sincere-sounding words!) that others may have been offended by your words. Never your intention of course!

In the first example YOU take the blame for your actions, but in the second you are apologising for any offence that was taken as a result of your actions whilst making no apology for your actual actions.

This second example, which in fact is no apology at all, is from the Priti Patel rule book. Does she think we are daft?

Alex Leggatt

IT should come as no surprise to any one when Boris Johnson rushes to defend Priti Patel. Come the morning of January 1, her less-than-subtle abilities as Home Secretary may become essential to the maintenance of law and order in the UK.

Bob Cotton

WHAT credibility does Johnson have now? A case of “I see no ships”? Move along, nothing to see here. And if Ms Patel was unaware of the effect of her actions, should she really hold such a post? Any post? She has no self-awareness. Red card to both!

M Macdonald
via email