(Bloomberg) —

Philip Rutnam, one of the U.K.’s most senior civil servants, quit his job at the government department responsible for policing, counter-terrorism and immigration over what he claims was an orchestrated campaign against him.

The top public servant at the U.K. Home Office said that in the past 10 days he was the “target of a vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign,” according to a statement posted by his trade union on twitter. “It has been alleged that I have briefed the media against the home secretary. This – along with many other claims – is completely false,” he said.

The Cabinet Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The row over bullying in the Home Office has intensified in recent weeks after Home Secretary Priti Patel was forced to deny allegations that she berated civil servants and isn’t trusted by the country’s MI5 security service. The U.K. media has been awash with reports of the split, alleging that Patel created an “atmosphere of fear” that led the department to publish a joint statement from the minister and Rutnam denouncing the “false allegations.”

The resignation comes at a critical juncture for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, not long after it published its post-Brexit immigration policy and ahead of tense negotiations with the European Union over a future trade agreement. It’s also yet more turmoil for Downing Street after it faced allegations of racism when the recruitment of a controversial senior adviser backfired.

BBC political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg first reported Rutnam’s departure earlier Saturday in a series of tweets.

(Updates with Rutnam statement in second paragraph, background in fourth.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net, James Amott, Nate Lanxon

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