Former Home Office chief Phillip Rutnam appointed to NHS board

Acoba says the appointment of the former perm sec, who resigned last year over a bullying row with Priti Patel, is "low risk"
Sir Philip Rutnam. Photo: DfT

By Tevye Markson

15 Dec 2021

Sir Philip Rutnam, former permanent secretary at the Home Office, will take up a new role as a health trust board member after gaining approval from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

Rutnam quit his role as the Home Office’s top civil servant in February 2020 and was awarded £340,000 after suing the government for constructive dismissal. He later received an out-of-court settlement of £340,000.

His decision to quit came after reports of major tensions between him and home secretary Priti Patel, who was accused of bullying civil servants.

Rutnam's appointment to Oxford Health Trust was approved by Acoba, which considers applications for new jobs for former ministers, senior civil servants and crown servants.

The committee said Rutnam did not make any decisions specific to Oxford Health Trust during his time as Home Office perm sec.

It also said the risks of Rutnam gaining an improper advantage from his Home Office role are “significantly mitigated” due to it being 20 months since he had access to information at the department and the fact he has an ongoing duty of confidentiality.

The committee said the risk of his new role being seen as a reward for the decisions he made as perm sec is low, while the Home Office also called the appointment “low risk”.

Rutnam will also become a trustee and chair-designate for the National Churches Trust.

Acoba said the unpaid nature of the role would limit any risks.

The committee included its standard clauses on lobbying, saying Rutnam must not “draw on any privileged information” nor lobby the UK government on behalf of either organisation for at least two years after his resignation from the Home Office.

'Vicious and orchestrated campaign'

In his resignation speech, Rutnam said he had been the victim of "a vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign" by allies of home secretary Priti Patel.

The long-serving permanent secretary, who led the Home Office from April 2017, and before that was Department for Transport perm sec for five years, accused Patel of failing to "dissociate herself" from attacks on him.

Rutnam said he had been “the target of a vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign".

He also accused the home secretary of shouting and swearing at Home Office staff.

Boris Johnson’s former independent standards adviser Alex Allen also resigned in November 2020 over the case, after the PM overruled his finding that Patel had bullied civil servants and breached the ministerial code.

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