The prime minister, Boris Johnson, and cabinet secretary Simon Case have told ministers and civil servants there is “no place for bullying” in government, days after the PM refused to acknowledge home secretary Priti Patel had bullied staff.
In a letter addressed to “all ministers and permanent secretaries” intended to quell leaks, Johnson and Case wrote that the relationship between ministers and civil servants is “one of the foundation stones in our system of government”.
Without an effective relationship between the two, “we cannot deliver the services and support that the people of this country quite rightly demand of their government”, they wrote.
The warning about bullying comes buried in several paragraphs of text urging politicians and officials to protect the “mutual trust” needed to underpin this relationship by “keeping internal conversation private”.
“We should all feel able to speak freely and honestly about matters of state. We should also feel able to speak constructively about things that are not working, so that we can fix them together promptly,” said the letter, which was published yesterday morning.
It continued: “There is a particular duty on ministers and permanent secretaries to create jointly across government a culture which is professional, respectful, focused and ambitious for change and in which there is no place for bullying.”
Johnson and Case added that they were “enormously grateful” for the work of public servants at a challenging time.
“We are also immensely proud of the fantastic work that is going on across government, and know that this work would not have been possible without strong relationships between ministers and their officials,” the letter said.
“Never has it been more important that we work as one team.”