Dominic Raab calls for inquiry into complaints against him

by 24britishtvNov. 16, 2022, noon 16
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Dominic Raab has formally requested an independent investigation into his conduct, after saying he has been told two formal complaints have been made against him in two ministerial roles. He said he hoped to stay in post while this took place.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, Raab, who serves as justice secretary and deputy prime minister, said he had “just been notified” that two separate complaints had been made against him, one relating to his time as foreign secretary, and his first period as justice secretary, both under Boris Johnson.

It follows a series of allegations, reported by the Guardian and other publications, that a civil servant and others found Raab’s manner could be demeaning and overly abrupt, and that this did at the time feel like bullying. Raab has repeatedly rejected any wrongdoing.

At the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Tuesday, Sunak said officials with concerns about Raab’s behaviour should come forward but reiterated that he was not aware of any formal complaints.

In the letter to Sunak, Raab said following news of the complaints, he was “writing to request that you commission an independent investigation into the claims as soon as possible”, adding: “I will cooperate fully and respect whatever outcome you decide.”

Raab said he would remain in his posts and had “always sought to set high standards”, adding: “I have never tolerated bullying.”

Sources told the Guardian that the Ministry of Justice complaint was made in spring this year but had been revived by the individuals in light of the recent allegations.

Their letter of complaint about Raab’s alleged behaviour was understood to have been sent by a group of mid-ranking policy officials to the permanent secretary at the MoJ, Antonia Romeo.

Department insiders said she had “acted on” this at the time, by speaking to Raab as well as putting in extra measures and support for the officials.

It is not clear who will investigate the claims, given that Sunak does not have an independent adviser on ministerial standards. The last incumbent, Lord Christopher Geidt, resigned in June under Johnson and was not replaced.

It is also uncertain whether Raab would be sacked even if an inquiry did find he had bullied officials. In 2020, Geidt’s predecessor as ethics adviser, Sir Alex Allan, resigned after Johnson took no action against Priti Patel, then home secretary, despite bullying conduct.

A brief letter from Sunak in response to Raab did not set out how the inquiry would take place but agreed one should take place.

“I thank you for your letter and the recommendation that the two formal complaints against you in previous roles are investigated independently,” Sunak wrote. “I know that you will be keen to address the complaints made against you and agree that proceeding in this way is the right course of action.”

The Liberal Democrats called for a replacement for Geidt to be appointed swiftly. Daisy Cooper, the party’s deputy leader, said: “A new independent ethics adviser must be appointed by Rishi Sunak and given this as their first task. If the ministerial code has been broken then the prime minister must sack Raab immediately.”

The Guardian has reported that Simon McDonald, the former permanent secretary of the Foreign Office, warned Raab about the way he treated officials in his private office and reported his concerns to the propriety and ethics team at the Cabinet Office.

On Tuesday, Civil Service World cited a series of unnamed officials as saying staff felt Raab was “gaslighting” them after telling a recent all-staff meeting at the Ministry of Justice that he had a zero tolerance attitude towards bullying.

The report said Raab would often interrupt civil servants during briefings and criticise them. One source said: “We just didn’t trust that he wasn’t going to cut you off after half a sentence and say, ‘I don’t want to hear that, I don’t want to listen to you’, which I would never want any of my staff being subjected to.”

A spokesperson for Raab has denied this.

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