UK’s Priti Patel says after bullying inquiry: sorry if I upset people

LONDON: British interior minister Priti Patel said on Friday she was sorry if she had upset people after an investigation into allegations of bullying.

“I am sorry that my behaviour in the past has upset people. It has never been my intention to cause upset to anyone,” Patel said in a statement. “I am very grateful for the hard work of thousands of civil servants who help to deliver the government’s agenda.”

Patel thanked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his support after he judged she had not broken the ministerial code.

“I acknowledge that I am direct and have at times got frustrated,” she said. “I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his support.”

The inquiry looking into allegations of bullying by Priti Patel had concluded that she “unintentionally” broke the rules on ministers’ behaviour, the BBC and other media reported on Thursday.

It came after Philip Rutnam, Britain’s top official in the interior ministry, resigned saying he had become the “target of a vicious and orchestrated campaign against him” which, he alleged, Patel was involved in.

Patel has always rejected any accusations of bullying. Although the report by the government’s independent adviser on standards was concluded in the summer, it has not been published.

The BBC, citing unnamed sources, said the draft report had found Patel had broken the ministerial code which states ministers should treat officials with respect, and that there was evidence of bullying, even if it was unintentional.

The Sun newspaper said the inquiry had concluded that Patel unintentionally broke the code, but no formal complaints were made against her, while ITV said Johnson would not reprimand her.

“The process is ongoing and the prime minister will make any decision on the matter public once the process has concluded,” a government spokeswoman said in a statement in response to the reports.