Prime Minister stands by Home Secretary Priti Patel as more bullying allegations emerge

Boris Johnson has launched a passionate defence of his Home Secretary Priti Patel over bullying allegations made against her.

Ms Patel is facing allegations of bullying staff in a third government department.

A senior official at the Department for International Development (DfID) reported a "tsunami" of allegations of abuse by officials in her private office when she was secretary of state, BBC2's Newsnight reported.

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The claims follow the resignation at the weekend of the top official at the Home Office, Sir Philip Rutnam, who quit accusing her of bullying subordinates.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire

And a former aide at the Department for Work and Pensions is also reported to have received a £25,000 payout from the Government after claiming she was bullied by Ms Patel when she was employment minister.

Ms Patel “categorically denies” the allegations and the PM defended her to shouts from opposition during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

The Government has faced criticism for “marking its own homework” over an investigation into the allegations, which will be carried out by the Cabinet Office.

There are fears the outcome has already been decided since the Prime Minister has repeatedly said he is backing Ms Patel.

Mr Johnson refused to answer whether Ms Patel would be sacked or forced to resign if the investigation found her standards had fallen below those expected of a minister.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Prime Minister had "no shame in defending bullying" in his Government, as he called for an "independent" investigation.

Mr Johnson said an investigation was taking place into the conduct of the Home Secretary, but defended Ms Patel and insisted she is "keeping this country safe".

Mr Corbyn urged the PM to release the findings of any investigation, adding: "A government cannot be judge and jury over its own conduct. There has to be an independent element to that investigation.

"Overnight, further allegations have emerged that the Home Secretary repeatedly harassed and humiliated her private secretary while she ran the Department for International Development.

"If this is true, this suggests a shocking and unacceptable pattern of behaviour across three government departments - on each occasion, tens of thousands of pounds of hard-earned taxpayers' money has been spaffed up the wall to buy their silence.

"Was the Prime Minister aware of these allegations? And ,if he was, why did he appoint her?"

Mr Johnson replied: "The Home Secretary is doing an outstanding job, I have every confidence in her. If there are allegations, of course it's right they should be properly investigated by the Cabinet Office and that is what is happening."

He added he "takes no lessons about bullying" from the leader of a party where "female MPs were bullied so badly in the manner of anti-Semitism they actually left the party".

Mr Corbyn countered: "The Prime Minister said if there are allegations - is he completely unaware of all the allegations that have been made in the last few days? Is he completely unaware of the resignation of a permanent secretary because of his treatment by the Home Secretary?

"We have a part-time Prime Minister who barely turns up but is determined to cover up for bullies in his government."

The Labour leader added: "When his Home Secretary has been accused of repeated bullying and harassment, leading to hard-working staff attempting suicide by overdose, he gave her his full support.

"How can the people of this country have faith in a Prime Minister who can't be bothered to turn up, and when he does has no shame in defending bullying in his own Government?"