A report said that Interior Minister Priti Patel had failed to meet the standards required of a government minister and concluded that her behavior met the definition of harassment.
In general, cabinet ministers who have violated the ministerial code are expected to resign. But the government said the prime minister had “full confidence” in Patel and “considers that this matter is now closed.”
Johnson’s adviser on ministerial standards, Alex Allan, who led the Patel investigation, resigned instead, saying he couldn’t continue at his job.
“I recognize that it is up to the prime minister to pass judgment on whether a minister’s actions amount to a violation of the ministerial code,” Allan said. “But I think it is right that I am now resigning from my position as an independent adviser to the prime minister on the code.”
Patel thanked Johnson for his support and said he was “sorry that my behavior in the past has upset people.”
“I recognize that I am direct and that I have sometimes been frustrated,” she said, but added that “it has never been my intention to cause anyone discomfort.”
“I am very grateful for the hard work of thousands of public officials who help fulfill the government’s agenda,” Patel said in a statement.
Patel has been under investigation since March after several officials accused her of bullying. The top Interior Ministry official, Philip Rutnam, resigned that month, saying Patel had disparaged employees and fostered an atmosphere of fear in the department. She denied the accusations.
The findings of the investigation were released Friday after months of delay from Johnson’s office.
Allan concluded that Patel “has not consistently met the high standards required by the Ministerial Code of treating its public officials with consideration and respect.”
“His approach has at times turned into behavior that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact that individuals feel,” he said. “To that extent, their behavior has been a violation of the Ministerial Code, even if not intentionally.”
Patel was appointed by Johnson to the key position responsible for immigration and crime fighting after his election victory in December 2019. A hard-line law and order activist, she has vowed to stop immigrants trying to cross the English Channel from France in small boats, although without much success.
Colleagues defended Patel. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said she was “an excellent home secretary and that she really did deliver on the things that people care about,” while International Trade Secretary Liz Truss called her “compassionate, determined, hard-working and professional “.