Dominic Raab is ‘100% a bully’, says former Foreign Office official

Dominic Raab is “100% a bully”, and also took no steps to intervene in bullying by others, a former Foreign Office official has said in the latest accusations against the justice secretary and former foreign secretary.

The claims, reported by ITV News, came as Rishi Sunak declined to say why an independent inquiry into Raab’s behaviour had not yet reported back after more than four months, or if he would sack Raab if it uncovered misconduct.

The justice secretary, who vehemently denies that he has bullied or intimidated staff, oversaw a toxic atmosphere when in charge of the Foreign Office, the anonymous ex-staffer said, with his office viewed as “a hardship post”.

Related: Angela Rayner mocks Dominic Raab over bullying claims at PMQs

The official said that in deciding whether or not they believed Raab was a bully, he had looked up the dictionary definition. “I read it as someone that uses their influence to intimidate other people,” he said. “And if that is the definition then he was 100% a bully.”

Officials were “terrified to have interactions with him but also to interact with his office”, he said, adding that he had also witnessed Raab do “absolutely nothing” when a colleague was being bullied by someone else.

“He didn’t step in,” the official said. “One of the most powerful men in the country was condoning it and saying that kind of behaviour was acceptable.”

In the interview, the man said Raab had put “unreasonable pressure” on civil servants in terms of timeframes, also turning away work if it was not formatted to the standard he wanted.

“I think you can have high expectations and not be a bully. I think he had high expectations and was a bully,” he said.

Asked why he did not complain at the time, the official cited Boris Johnson’s decision to overrule an official inquiry into Priti Patel, the then home secretary, who faced no action despite a finding that she had broken the ministerial code in her treatment of staff.

In November, Sunak asked a leading employment lawyer, Adam Tolley, to investigate the claims against Raab, who faces allegations from at least two dozen officials at the Foreign Office, justice department and the now-defunct Brexit department.

In a television interview during a visit to Darlington on Friday, Sunak said it was up to Tolley how long the process took, and declined to say whether he would sack Raab if his justice secretary and deputy prime minister was found to have bullied officials.

“There’s an independent inquiry happening, it wouldn’t be right to preempt that inquiry,” he said.

ITV spoke to other unnamed officials who have worked with Raab, including one who called him “the most difficult minister I’ve ever had to work with”.

Others, however, defended him, with one recounting how he organised staff events at Christmas, and a barbecue in the summer, known as a “Raab-ecue”.