Dominic Raab: What are the bullying accusations against the deputy prime minister?

Dominic Raab: What are the bullying accusations against the deputy prime minister?
Dominic Raab resigns as Deputy Prime Minister after bullying investigation

Dominic Raab is under Westminster's microscope this week after a report came out finding he bullied staff.

Multiple reports had emerged that the deputy prime minister and justice secretary has committed a smorgasbord of sins including throwing tomatoes across the office and leaving staff "scared" to enter the office, triggering PM Rishi Sunak to get lawyer Adam Tolley to launch a report into him.

After the report was concluded on Thursday, Raab resigned on Friday, though took a pop at the report's findings, claiming the threshold for bullying had been set "low".

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Here's what we know about the allegations:

'Throwing tomatoes'

It all started when it was reported the politician chucked tomatoes in a rage. “He began a tirade, opened his Pret salad and threw three tomatoes out into a bag across the table making a loud noise,” a Whitehall source reportedly told The Sun.

This started an avalanche of allegations.

A former diary secretary reportedly said. “I’m not his biggest fan.

“You have to be very straight with him. He finds it difficult dealing with women. He’s very dismissive.”

When he was rehired as Justice secretary under Rishi Sunak, Ministry of Justice staff were apparently told they did not have to work for him and were offered positions in other departments.

Antonia Romeo, the MoJ’s top civil servant, “read him the riot act” about his behaviour at the department, according to The Guardian.

Around 15 staff working in the Justice Secretary’s private office were given the option of moving roles.

One source told The Guardian that Raab created “a culture of fear” when running the department and was “very rude and aggressive” to workers, reducing some to tears.

“It wasn’t just that he was unprofessional, he was a bully. The atmosphere when he came back was terrible”, they added.

Another report claimed the justice secretary had acquired the nickname "The Incinerator" because he "burns through" staff.

And a survey of 20 people working in Raab's private office when he was foreign secretary in 2019 showed that 40 per cent reported personal experience of bullying and harassment - though not necessarily by Raab - and 75 per cent witnessed it, ITV reported.

Gina Miller also said he called her a silly "b****".

Previously, writing in The Independent, Miller said she then saw Mr Raab tell a young BBC staff member to “go get me a f***ing car”.

According to Bloomberg, Simon Case - the most senior civil servant - had been told of alleged "abrasive behaviour" by Raab in the past

Lord Simon McDonald, who was permanent secretary at the Foreign Office between 2015 and 2020, said Raab was a "tough boss" and the claims about him are believable.

“Colleagues did not complain to me formally, it was kind of their professional pride to cope, but many were scared to go into his office,” the crossbench peer told Times Radio.

“His sort of defence was that he treated everybody in the building in the same way. He was as abrasive and controlling with junior ministers and senior officials as he was with his private secretaries.”

“It was language, it was tone, he could be very curt with people and he did this in front of a lot of other people. I think people felt demeaned,” the former official said.

“And I tried to have that conversation with him, I had several conversations with him. But it wouldn’t surprise me today if he said ‘I don’t recognise that’ because I felt at the time that my message wasn’t landing.”

What did the report say?

Tolly conducted 66 interviews, including four with Raab which lasted two-and-a-half days in total.

He said Raab works hard over 7 days a week and finds the quality of the work he commissions frustrating, often.

"If work is not provided to his satisfaction, he will in general say so," the report said.

"If in the course of a meeting an attendee does not in the DPM’s (deputy prime minister's) view answer a question in a manner which he regards as direct and straightforward, the DPM will likely interrupt".

He did not find evidence that Raab's manner is "inconsistent" or "unpredictable" in terms of giving praise to staff then changing his mind.

In terms of gesticulating to make points, Tolley said: "I was not convinced that the DPM used physical gestures in a threatening way, although those unused to this style of communication might well have found it disconcerting."

He said he didn't find evidence that he shouted or swore at staff either and, more specifically, when he was the Brexit minister in 2018, he "was not offensive, malicious or insulting."

But despite Raab's allegation to the contrary, Tolley said he did have a meeting with two of his senior civil servants on separate occasions, Sir Philip and Antonia Romeo, who discussed people's interpretation of his behaviour with him.

Because of the time passed, Tolley said it was difficult to get lots of concrete conclusions over his 2018 conduct.

Raab was in the foreign office from 2019 to 2021. This is when Tolley found wrongdoing. He wrote:

"As part of the process towards and implementation of this management choice he acted in a way which was intimidating, in the sense of unreasonably and persistently aggressive in the context of a workplace meeting.

"His conduct also involved an abuse or misuse of power in a way that undermines or humiliates. In particular, he went beyond what was reasonably necessary in order to give effect to his decision and introduced a punitive element.

"His conduct was bound to be experienced as undermining or humiliating by the affected individual, and it was so experienced."

On a separate occasion, his behaviour had "a significant adverse effect on a particular individual" by a "form of intimidating behaviour, in the sense of conveying a threat of unspecified disciplinary action."

What has Raab said today?

After Sunak considered the report, Raab said the independent investigation had dismissed “all but two” allegations against him. The findings were “flawed” and set a dangerous precedent for “good government”, he added, by setting the threshold for bullying “so low”. He claimed that the outcome would “encourage spurious claims against ministers” from within Whitehall.

The justice secretary had pledged that he would resign if a bullying claim is upheld so his hands were tied.

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