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FDA judicial review of the Home Secretary's breach of the Ministerial Code

The FDA launched a legal challenge to the Prime Minister’s decision that the Home Secretary did not breach the Ministerial Code. This followed an investigation which concluded that she had bullied civil servants, including incidents of shouting and swearing at them.

Our application for Judicial Review was heard before Lord Justice Lewis and Mrs Justice Steyn over two days on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 November, and the judgement was handed down on Monday 6 December. You can read the judgement in full below, along with the costs order.

Although the judicial review was dismissed overall, the findings of the court represent a clear rejection of the idea that there are different standards for ministers than for civil servants. Specifically, the court found:

  • That the prohibition on bullying, discrimination and harassment in the Ministerial Code is justiciable in the Courts.
  • That the Prime Minister must correctly apply those concepts when determining complaints against ministers.
  • That it is not an excuse for bullying under the Code that a minister does not intend or is not aware of the upset and distress caused by their actions.

The subsequent costs order also reflected the fact that the FDA had succeeded in much of it's case, with the court deciding not to award costs against either side, concluding that, "in all the circumstances, the issues upon which the claimant [the FDA] succeeded are broadly equivalent to the success obtained by the defendant."

You can find out more about the judicial review, including our reasons for bringing the case and our skeleton arguments, below:

Boris-Johnson-2020-555

Why we've launched a judicial review

Despite the evidence, the Prime Minister sought to give weight to the Home Secretary’s assertion that any behaviour was unintentional and he therefore concluded that she had not breached the code. Our challenge in the court is essentially that the Prime Minister’s decision was irrational given the obligations of the Code, and indeed his own words in its foreword that “there will be no bullying and no harassment”.

You can read the full judgement here:

FDA v Prime Minister Judgment 061221 by FDAunion on Scribd

The costs order can be read here:

Judicial Review Costs Order by FDAunion on Scribd

Skeleton arguments

You can read the FDA's skeleton arguments in full here, and those of the Prime Minister's legal team here.


Permission hearing

We attended a permission hearing earlier this year, which granted permission for us to apply for Judicial Review. The judgement from the permission hearing can be read here, while the skeleton arguments from both sides are available to download here.

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