HOME Secretary Priti Patel’s defence to an official inquiry that found she breached the ministerial code by bullying staff has been contradicted by her former top civil servant.

She insisted on Friday that “issues were not pointed out to me” at the time, as Boris Johnson overruled the report to say she did not breach the rules, prompting the resignation of his adviser on ministerial standards.

But Sir Philip Rutnam, who quit as the Home Office’s permanent secretary after accusing Patel of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” against him, contested the investigation’s conclusion that she received no feedback on the impact of her behaviour, which she was echoing as a defence.

He said she was advised not to shout and swear at staff the month after her appointment in 2019 and that he told her to treat staff with respect “on a number of further occasions”.

Sir Philip also contradicted the advice to the Prime Minister from Sir Alex Allan, who conducted the inquiry, and said he was not interviewed for the inquiry despite him having launched a constructive dismissal claim at an employment tribunal.

Sir Alex found Patel had not always treated civil servants with “consideration and respect”, and concluded that her approach on occasions “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals”.

He said Patel had “not consistently met the high standards required by the ministerial code”, though he said there was “no evidence that she was aware of the impact of her behaviour”.