Hastings MP Amber Rudd was let down by her department’s civil servants in the run-up to her resignation as Home Secretary in April/
Ms Rudd had been under pressure over the ‘Windrush Scandal’ before quitting her cabinet position after ‘inadvertently’ telling MPs that her department did not use targets for deporting illegal immigrants.
But an internal report launched after her resignation has concluded that Ms Rudd was badly briefed by civil servants who gave her the wrong information before, during and after the crucial committee hearing that cost her her job.
According to The Times, this morning the report by Sir Alex Allen, Theresa May’s independent adviser on ministerial standards, finds that Ms Rudd, “was not supported as she should have been” by her Home Office team and outlines a catalogue of failings in briefings to the then-cabinet minister.
Sir Alex writes: “In preparations immediately before the hearing, the home secretary asked ‘Are there removals targets?’ and was told ‘no’. This led to her denial in the hearing.”
He adds: “I cannot establish how she was given this reply: the most likely explanation is crossed wires between her special adviser and her private office.”
The inquiry also highlights “confused email exchanges” among Home Office staff after Ms Rudd told MPs that the department did not use removal targets – a line that Sir Alex says “was undermined when it emerged there had been a target until a few weeks earlier”.
Ms Rudd was, the report adds, ‘never’ given a briefing that would have allowed her to “put the correct position on the record”.
Despite the scathing findings the PM’s ethics adviser stops short of recommending that any official faces a misconduct investigation but singles out the then-director general for immigration enforcement Hugh Ind as having offered a “less than satisfactory performance”. He also says the Home Office’s then-second permanent secretary Patsy Wilkinson should have played a ‘more proactive role’.
Ms Rudd is reported as saying that she hopes the report would act as ‘an incentive and a wake-up call’ for sweeping changes at the Home Office, which she said were needed to avoid a repeat of the ‘appalling’ treatment of some members of the Windrush generation.
When asked if the report could pave the way for her return to frontline politics, Ms Rudd told the Today programme on BBC radio 4: “That’s going to be up to the Prime Minister. It’s important to me that people know, if anybody’s interested, that there are changes that needed to take place at the Home Office.
“And I think that this report will go a long way to making sure that that takes place.”
Police have enough on their hands
In the same interview on Today this morning Ms Rudd also warned her successor Sajid Javid that the police have ‘enough on their hands’ without having to deal with a string of new hate crimes.
Ms Rudd sided with a warning from senior police chief Sara Thornton, who said asking under-pressure forces to probe new misogyny and ageism-related offences risks distracting them from a crackdown on violent crime.
Ms Thornton’s call has already won the backing of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, who said cops were having to take ‘a harder and harder line on what we do there and where we do it’.
Speaking to the Today programme, Ms Rudd said: “I am with Sara and Cressida on this. Unless we give them extra resources I think the police have enough on their hands.