A Durham MP who warned of "toxic" working conditions at the city’s passport office has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel asking her to intervene immediately.

Mary Kelly Foy told fellow MPs of allegations of "toxic working cultures", "bullying tactics" and a staff member who "contemplated suicide" at Durham passport office, during a debate in parliament earlier this month.

Now the City of Durham MP has written a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel and passport minister Kevin Foster after she was refused a visit to HMPO (Her Majesty’s Passport Office) Durham, and asked them to ‘intervene in the management practices within the organisation immediately’.

In the letter, Ms Foy said: “I have been receiving a staggering amount of contact from constituents regarding delays to their passport applications and received evidence from whistleblowers within HMPO Durham, as well as other HMPO sites, voicing startling accounts about their working conditions.

Read more: Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison hits back at defection rumours

“The Member of Parliament for Newport and I were both refused meetings with the respective HMPOs situated in our constituencies.

“I am therefore requesting that you, as Home Secretary and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, work to establish a direct line of contact between MPs and the senior officials based in their constituency HMPO who oversee the day-to-day operation of the organisations.”

The MP also raised fresh allegations in her letter of management removing staff incentives including overtime to stop them from speaking out.

Ms Foy added: “Disturbingly, while I was writing this letter, I was made aware of allegations that senior management at HMPO Durham are removing overtime and other incentives – not only from individuals they think have shared their experiences with me, but across the board, in an attempt to stop hard working HMPO workers from speaking out.”

During a House of Commons debate on June 15, Ms Foy recalled harrowing insights from HMPO Durham whistleblowers which she said made for "stark reading".

One whistle-blower condemned management as ‘firefighting all the time, with no visible strategy for tackling problems.’

Read more: Teesside Airshow: Who is to blame as report released

Another said they had contemplated taking their life over "bullying" from senior. They told the MP: “I have been subject of harassing, bullying and discriminatory behaviour from management for a number of years.

"This has become increasingly worse over the covid period to date. I actually attempted to take my own life last year as the bullying and harassment had become that bad.”

A HMPO spokesperson told the Northern Echo earlier this month: “Our hard-working staff are processing 250,000 passport applications each week and we have increased staff numbers by 650 since April 2021 to handle more applications than ever.

“Staff wellbeing is of utmost importance and any staff member who has concerns about their workload or work conditions is encouraged to raise this with their manager as soon as possible.”


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054