A private company was paid tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash to help the Home Office deal with crises – including a “complex critical incident”
Home Secretary Priti Patel’s department used taxpayers’ cash to hire a private crisis management company to help them deal with ‘incidents’ last year, the Sunday Mirror can reveal.
Black Dog Crisis Management was hired in March 2020 to deliver a “debriefing exercise” with staff in the department at a cost of £16,000.
And in November 2020, they were brought in for a second time to “deliver impartial debriefing exercise and follow-up work following a complex critical incident”. This second contract was valued at £19,200.
The Home Office has refused to identify which crises the firm was brought in to deal with.
In November, the department was in the thick of a series of crises – including Ms Patel avoiding the sack despite a report accusing her of bullying staff.
In the same month the department was slammed for failing to consult local authorities before restarting asylum evictions.
And it was accused of trying to “cover up” squalid conditions for asylum seekers being held at Napier Barracks, by asking staff to sign confidentiality agreements underpinned by the Official Secrets Act.
In March, the department was reeling from the resignation of senior civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam over Ms Patel’s behaviour.
And the department was still dealing with the fallout from unrest and arson attacks at Napier Barracks in January.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary said: “The Home Secretary must urgently explain how she reached a situation where she had to spend taxpayers’ money on a private crisis management company.
“During the Home Secretary’s tenure at Home Office she has been found to have bullied her staff, lost thousands of police records and failed on tackling the rise of small boat crossings. People are paying the price of her dangerous incompetence.”
A Home Office source said there were a number of reasons an incident would be considered “critical”, and that it was “routine” for a “thorough debrief” to follow such a crisis.
But the Mirror’s research only found only one department who had issued such contracts – the Home Office.
Crisis management firm Black Dog is owned by Rob Doran, a former civil servant who formerly worked at the Cabinet Office.
His LinkedIn profile boasts that he played “a key part in the national response to major civil emergencies in recent years as part of COBR”, before leaving government for the private sector.
The source added: “It is routine for the government to procure external support where there are short-term gaps that need to be filled and it provides value for money.
“This ensures every pound of taxpayer money is spent in the most effective way.“