Staff were scared to go into Dominic Raab's office, says former head …
The Independent

Another day, another Tory minister investigated for bullying.

No, not Gavin Williamson. No, not Priti Patel. This time it's Dominic Raab.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary tweeted on Wednesday morning that he'd written to Rishi Sunak to "request an independent investigation into two formal complaints that have been made against me".

The interesting plot twist? He claimed to be "looking forward" to it.

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Raab wrote in his letter to the PM: “When you entered No 10 Downing Street, on 25th October, you rightly stated that ‘this Government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level’.

"I am proud to take this as a personal article of faith."

(Let's just bear in mind that he also appointed Williamson to his top team, and look how well that turned out...)

The note continues: “I have just been notified that two separate complaints have formally been made against me, in parallel, from my time as foreign secretary and my first tenure as Justice Secretary, which ended in September of this year.

“I am, therefore, writing to request that you commission an independent investigation into the claims as soon as possible. I will co-operate fully and respect whatever outcome you decide.”

His announcement came amid a swirl of allegations that he had picked on junior colleagues, subjecting them to rude and demeaning behaviour.

It also came two hours before he was due to stand in for Sunak at the latest round of PMQs.

We wonder if he's "looking forward" to that showdown, too...

The Prime Minister, who is in Indonesia at the G20 summit, has so far stood by his deputy, reportedly telling journalists travelling with him to Bali: “I don’t recognise that characterisation of Dominic and I’m not aware of any formal complaints about him.

“Of course, there are established procedures for civil servants if they want to bring to light any issues.

“I’m not aware of any formal complaint about Dominic.”

That didn't age well.

Sceptics on Twitter suggested that the timing of Raab's revelation was no accident, and that he'd use it as a get-out-of-jail-free card when taking on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in the Commons at lunchtime.

In the second part of his letter, the Tory MP for Esher and Walton told his boss that he has “never tolerated bullying" and had "always sought to reinforce and empower the teams of civil servants working in my respective departments”.

And yet, top Ministry of Justice officials have reportedly ruled that there must now be a senior civil servant in the room at all meetings involving him in light of the allegations.

Lord McDonald, who was senior civil servant at the Foreign Office when Raab was the department's secretary, acknowledged that the accusations against him were plausible.

Asked by LBC radio on Monday if the characterisation of Raab as a bully was potentially fair, he replied: “Yes.”

“Dominic Raab is one of the most driven people I ever worked for, he was a tough boss," Lord McDonald added.

“Maybe they are euphemisms, but I worked closely with him and I didn’t see everything that happened.”

According to Guardian sources, the former mandarin spoke to Raab on several occasions about how he treated staff in his private office and during meetings – although none made an official complaint.

Now a crossbench peer, Lord McDonald was said to have had several informal conversations with the head of the propriety and ethics team (PET) at the Cabinet Office between 2019 and 2020 about the issue.

A spokesman for Raab responded to these rumours by telling the paper: “Dominic had frequent discussions with his permanent secretary at the Foreign Office about how best to run the department and ensure that it delivered to the highest standard in challenging circumstances such as during Covid.”

The head of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, called on Sunak to appoint a new independent adviser on ministers’ interests – the post has been vacant since Lord Geidt quit in June – and reform the complaints system to help address a “toxic work culture” in Whitehall.

In a letter to the PM. FDA general secretary Dave Penman said: “As we have seen over the last few weeks, there is increasing scrutiny over the conduct of ministers and, in particular, accusations of bullying – behaviour that has no place in a modern workplace.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner criticised Sunak for bringing Raab into his top team, saying he "clearly knew about DominicRaab’s reputation when he reappointed him to his Cabinet."

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have written to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to ask for a list to be published of ministers with “credible allegations of bullying” made against them.

The PM was already under pressure for appointing Williamson to his senior team despite being told he was under investigation for allegedly bullying a colleague, claims that caused the tarantula-owning Tory to quit.

He also faced criticism for reinstating Suella Braverman as Home Secretary just six days after she was forced to step down over a security breach.

Sunak may be in Bali right now, but he's having to deal with a hefty amount of trouble in that paradise.

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