Priti Patel has dismissed the importance of the ministerial code whilst telling the BBC to have a ‘good look at itself’.
BBC’s Andrew Marr has asked Patel if the ministerial code still matters, after she was found to have broken it and Boris Johnson is also under investigation over this.
Patel said: “The ministerial code itself is there for a reason and there’s work taking place right now in terms of reviewing that.
“I think at this stage this isn’t about breaking codes and things of that nature, we’re all just getting on in government doing very difficult jobs actually, coming out of this pandemic, and all ministers are currently focusing on doing that job.”
“Our strategy has always been about protecting public health”
She has also told Andrew Marr that herd immunity “absolutely wasn’t” government policy until March.
It comes after a series of tweets from Dominic Cummings revealed this was a strategy mentioned in all official meetings and documents.
Patel said: “I can’t speak for Mr Cummings, and one individual. I am not going to comment on what Mr Cummings is going to say or what is being speculated about right now.
“I think it’s important and the British public will know this – Andrew, we all remember the intensity of the pandemic when it hit last year.”
She added: “Decisions that were undertaken in government and by our prime minister, he showed great leadership at a very difficult time: closing the economy down, locking the country down, big unprecedented decisions that were based on data and evidence.
“Our strategy has always been about protecting public health, saving lives and protecting the NHS.”
BBC needs to have a ‘good look at itself’
On trusting the BBC, she said she thinks it’s important to recognise the criticism of the report published by Lord Dyson. The report revealed unethical practices of a BBC journalist in obtaining an interview with Princess Diana.
Patel said: “The BBC itself, one of our great institutions, its reputation has been compromised, it’s being questioned right now.
“They themselves will have to reflect upon the report and spend a great deal of time, I think, looking at how they can regain and rebuild trust and confidence of the British public.”
She added: “But also, they are a world-class institution, so they will have a great deal of work to do in this particular area, and, of course, right now it’s a very very important time for the BBC to very much look at itself and learn some very significant lessons post the publication of this report.
“I am very conscious of the hurt, the damage that this report has highlighted. And on that basis, I think the reputation of the BBC has been compromised, there’s no question about that. Trust and confidence has been undermined. Now it’s a time for the BBC to absolutely reflect upon the findings of this report and rebuild that trust and confidence.”