Priti Patel shakes up antiquated work practices at Home Office 

New rules being drawn up include the Home Secretary speaking with junior officials, and top civil servants undertaking performance reviews

The top ranks of the civil servants at the Home Office are to be shaken up in the wake of claims of bullying by Priti Patel, with officials forced to work some weekends and be subject to performance reviews.

New rules are also being drawn up to allow the Home Secretary to personally quiz junior officials who have the most up-to-date knowledge about the work of her department, The Telegraph understands.

The changes have been agreed between Ms Patel and Matthew Rycroft, the department's permanent secretary, in a bid to draw a line under the Whitehall probe into Ms Patel's behaviour.

A Whitehall report last week found that while Ms Patel's behaviour amounted to bullying in breach of the ministerial code, the civil service itself also "needs to reflect on its role during this period”.

It emerged this weekend that not one of the allegations had been put to Ms Patel, while she had never met or spoken to Sir Alex Allan, the Whitehall civil servant who carried out the eight-month investigation into Ms Patel.

Sources also confirmed that some civil servants complained if Ms Patel tried to contact them over weekends to ask for support if crises erupted.

One source said: "National security is not 9-til-5", adding that on some weekends Ms Patel had found that "she was driving the ship completely". They added: "That is changing."

A former adviser said: "The snowflakes in the civil service would regularly complain about working even five minutes more than their allotted hours.

"Their chief complaint appears to be having to work over a weekend when they’re on call, despite this being their job."

Under the new way of working, Ms Patel will be given a dedicated team of officials who she can lean on for support at weekends when other civil servants have gone home.

The top ranks of civil servants at the Home Office will be required to submit themselves to performance reviews.

The Home Office has agreed to allowing Ms Patel to question junior officials directly who might have day-to-day knowledge of a particular challenge, rather than relying on information fed through more senior officials.

One source said some civil servants had been "quite precious" about Ms Patel's attempts to speak to staff on the frontline of the Home Office's work.

Friends pointed to a history of previous Home Secretaries – such as Amber Rudd over the Windrush controversy – who had been unfairly forced out by the actions of civil servants.

Ms Patel last week said she was not being "supported" by her department at the time bullying allegations were made against her, but issued what she describes as an "unreserved, fulsome apology" for any upset she has caused.

Mr Rycroft said he and Ms Patel were "committed to working together to improve the Home Office and build the strongest possible partnership between Ministers and officials based on support, candour, safety to challenge, mutual respect and professionalism".