Tory Patel Briefings Turn Fire on Home Office, Demand Apology from Civil Service

As Iain Duncan Smith and Home Office PPSs coordinate supportive Tweets from MPs in the wake of this afternoon’s Patel report semi-publication, Guido can reveal that behind-the-scenes, myriad angry briefings are being issued against the Home Office, with pro-Priti sources slamming both the department and the government’s now-former adviser on standards, Sir Alex Allan. An ally of Patel tells Guido:

“it’s the civil service who should be apologising, they’ve been found wanting yet again. Whether it’s windrush, lost passports or failing to deport rapists and murderers they blame mistakes on others and then expect an apology.”

To accompany the report’s findings that Home Office officials have shown poor leadership and failed to pass on any behaviour concerns to the Home Secretary, a list is now doing the rounds with MPs of previous failings by the department’s civil servants “to remind folks of the incompetence of the HO… and screwing Ministers over”, including the incidents of Amber Rudd and Mark Harper’s resignations; as well as the numerous apologies ministers have been forced to make after mistakes by the department:

  • Priti Patel (August 2020): “placing” of asylum seekers at a hotel in Home Secretary Priti Patel’s constituency was “an error”, the Home Office said
  • Sajid Javid (April 2019): apologised after asylum rejection letter “criticized the bible
  • Caroline Noakes (April 2019): apologised over Windrush; presided over an administrative error where e-mail sent included other people’s e-mail addresses.
  • Caroline Noakes (April 2019): apologized to a couple wrongly accused of entering a sham marriage.
  • Sajid Javid (Oct 2018): apologised over illegally demanding immigrant DNA tests.
  • Sajid Javid (Aug 2018): apologised over Windrush, and 18 who were wrongly detained or removed.
  • Theresa May, Amber Rudd (April 2018): apologised over Windrush
  • Mark Harper (Summer 2013): issues involving the use of lorries in a PR campaign on illegal immigrants.
  • Jacqui Smith (Dec 2008): apologised after knife crime figures were prematurely released
  • Tony McNulty/John Reid (Jan 2007): Home Office errors meant 27,500 offenses committed by British national aboard in other European countries were not passed on to the police for their records, this included serious offenders like rapists
  • Jack Straw/Paul Boateng (Feb 1999): criticised over the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. There was a security blunder that led to police informants being identified.

The Patel report specifically notes that the PM is “reassured that relationships, practices and culture in the Home Office are much improved” since Rutnam was replaced…

On top of a lifetime of failings by the department, Sir Alex Allan is proving the subject for negative briefings as well, with pro-government sources pointing out son-of-a-lord Allan is a former PPS to Blair and Major – “Independent my arse”. Allan’s resignation is hardly a great loss to the government either; in 2012, Labour MP Paul Flynn called on the mandarin to resign after it emerged that after five months in the well-paid role had yet to be called on to undertake an inquiry. His predecessor Sir Philip Mawer conduced just one investigation during his three-and-a-half-year tenure. If hacks thought Boris’s response to the report was a whitewash, these punchy briefings show the PM’s public words by comparison were almost conciliatory…

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