Dominic Raab resigned as UK deputy prime minister on Friday after an independent report into claims of bullying against him upheld two of eight formal complaints.
Raab said he wanted to step down if the report commissioned by Rishi Sunak found evidence of any bullying of civil servants.
Oliver Dowden, minister for the Cabinet Office and a Sunak loyalist, was appointed to replace Raab as deputy prime minister in a limited cabinet reshuffle.
Alex Chalk, the minister for defense procurement and a barrister, will play Raab’s justice secretary.
Sunak, who received the report by employment lawyer Adam Tolley on Thursday, weighed in on whether Raab could survive. Aides to the prime minister insisted that Raab had not been forced out of Number 10.
Raab’s resignation is a serious blow to Sunak, who is questioning his judgement. Nadim Zahavi and Sir Gavin Williamson were previously dropped from the premiership’s top team for their conduct.
Despite apologizing for any distress he caused, Raab made a defiant remark in his resignation letter, saying that the Tolley inquiry would undermine the ability of ministers to “directly supervise” civil servants.
“In setting the threshold for bullying so low, this investigation has set a dangerous precedent,” he wrote. “It will encourage fake complaints against ministers and will have a chilling effect on driving change on the part of your government – and ultimately the British people.”
Tolley, who spent five months investigating eight formal complaints against Raab that included allegations against more than 20 officials in three Whitehall departments, upheld two serious claims.
He said that Foreign Secretary Raab had shown “inappropriate and persistently aggressive conduct” at a working meeting.
Tolley said that in a separate incident at the Foreign Office, Raab had engaged in “a form of intimidation behaviour” by suggesting an officer had breached the Civil Service Code.
The lawyer did not support claims of bullying by Raab made by officials at the Ministry of Justice or the Brexit Department, which has now ceased to exist.
However, they found evidence of “abrasive” behavior by Raab as justice secretary – for example calling work by officials “sucks” or “woeful”.
Although some Justice Ministry officials had experienced stress and anxiety, with one taking stress-related leave, Tolley said there was not enough evidence to directly blame Raab.
Raab has been one of Sunak’s closest allies in politics, supporting him during his first Conservative Party leadership bid in the summer when he lost to Liz Truss.
On Friday Raab said he remained supportive of Sunak and his government, describing him as a “great prime minister in very challenging times”.
Raab complained about “a number of improprieties” during Tolley’s interrogation. “These include the systematic leaking of skewed and fabricated claims to the media in violation of the rules of interrogation and the civil service code of conduct,” he said.
He apologized for any unintended stress or offense at what he described as the “pace, standards and challenge” he brought as a minister.
Raab wrote, “Mr. Tolley concluded that not once, in four and a half years, did I swear or yell at anyone, let alone throw anything or otherwise physically threaten anyone, nor did I intentionally humiliate anyone.” tried.”