Boris Johnson’s adviser on the ministerial code has resigned after the PM backed Home Secretary Priti Patel over a bullying inquiry.
The government’s standards adviser Sir Alex Allan found Ms Patel’s approach “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying”.
Ms Patel released a statement saying she was sorry “that my behaviour in the past has upset people”.
The government said the PM had “full confidence” in his home secretary.
Ministers are normally expected to resign if they break the code and there are no known cases of a minister staying in post following a breach.
Although Sir Alex found that Ms Patel’s behaviour had breached the ministerial code “even if unintentionally”, Mr Johnson rejected his findings.
A government statement said Mr Johnson was “reassured that the home secretary is sorry for inadvertently upsetting those with whom she was working”.
“He is also reassured that relationships, practices and culture in the Home Office are much improved,” it said.
Sir Alex announced his resignation as the prime minister released his statement on the report’s findings.
“I recognise that it is for the prime minister to make a judgement on whether actions by a minister amount to a breach of the ministerial code,” he said.
“But I feel that it is right that I should now resign from my position as the prime minister’s independent adviser on the code.”
In his findings, Sir Alex said Ms Patel “has not consistently met the high standards required by the ministerial code of treating her civil servants with consideration and respect”.
He added: “Her approach on occasions has amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals.
“To that extent her behaviour has been in breach of the ministerial code, even if unintentionally.”
However he added that the home secretary had “legitimately – not always felt supported by the department”.
“In addition, no feedback was given to the home secretary of the impact of her behaviour, which meant she was unaware of issues that she could otherwise have addressed.”
Responding to the news, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Yet again, the prime minister has been found wanting when his leadership has been tested.
“If I were prime minister, the home secretary would have been removed from her job.”