Saturday, July 20, 2024

Dominic Raab reports of 'bullying' as imminent staff 'could leave' if he comes clean


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Rishi Sunak is set to decide his future within the next 48 hours if the deputy prime minister is cleared of bullying, top officials working for Dominic Raab are told.

The results of the independent inquiry into Mr Raab’s behavior are expected to be on Mr Sunak’s desk by the end of the week, and could be released as early as Thursday.

Senior officials at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) are preparing to quit if the PM chooses to keep Mr Raab in government because it would be “disappointing” for staff, according to Guardian,

One official told the newspaper, “If he stays in the department, seniors will want to walk,” while another said some would be ready to leave “in the near future.”

A person involved in the process described the Adam Tolley Casey report as “devastating”, while a senior government official said Mr Raab was “toast”, according to financial Times,

SMR Tolley is said to have been “thorough” in their handling of the investigation, having interviewed Mr Raab several times and spoken to or taken written evidence from many other people.

Mr Raab has been under investigation for months over eight formal complaints about his behavior during his first tenure as foreign secretary, Brexit secretary and justice secretary.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary deny the allegations. He has insisted that he believes “in heart and soul” that he is not a bully, defending his “candid” approach to his work.

Anonymous Civil Servants has accused Mr Raab of causing staff to break down or throw up in tears before meetings. The minister was also accused of throwing pret-a-manger tomatoes across a room in a “fit of rage” – an episode he denied.

Raab awaits fate of investigation into bullying allegations

(AFP via Getty Images)

No ruling is expected from the Tolley report and Mr Sunak will be left to assess whether Mr Raab’s behavior is bullying and deserves punishment. But Mr Raab has said he will resign if the bullying claims are upheld.

It emerged earlier on Wednesday that the minister had left his legal team to defend himself against the allegations.

The announcement, in the heavily delayed register of ministerial interests, comes despite the party footing an estimated £222,000 bill for Boris Johnson’s legal fees in the inquiry into whether he lied to MPs.

In the register, Mr Raab’s entry notes read: “In connection with the investigation being conducted by Adam Tolley Casey the Minister has engaged solicitors at his own expense.”

It is not clear why he paid for his own lawyers when Mr Johnson – whose outside earnings have made him the highest-paid MP in the past 12 months since leaving office – has received government support.

Rishi Sunak to decide Dominic Raab’s fate within hours

(PA Archive)

Sir Jake Berry, the former chairman of the Conservative Party, has hit out at the “outdated” system for handling complaints at Westminster, which has allowed Mr Raab to continue in his job during the investigation.

Sir Jake told ITV Peston It was “wrong” for Mr Raab to continue with his job while facing allegations of bullying on Wednesday night’s show. “It is a massively out-of-date system that our constituents would not expect from any of us.”

The senior Tory, who served in the cabinets of both Boris Johnson and Theresa May, said: “It seems to me quite wrong that people continue in their jobs when they are under this type of scrutiny.”

He said: “Whatever the outcome, and we’re going to find out tomorrow, I really think there needs to be a fundamental rethink about how we deal with allegations like this, against ministers in both government and levied against members of Parliament.”

Mr Tolley was appointed in November to lead an inquiry into Mr Raab’s conduct, but it is not known when Mr Raab first obtained legal representation.

Mr Raab’s team did not respond to the reports on Wednesday, other than suggesting it would be inappropriate to comment on the investigation before it is complete.