Dominic Raab ‘warned by three heads of department over behaviour’
Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab was warned over alleged bullying behaviour by several bosses at government departments he ran, it is claimed.
Permanent secretaries at the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Exiting the European Union are all said to have raised informal concerns with Mr Raab.
But the warnings are claimed to have made little difference, with a source reported to have said that Mr Raab “could not be made to see the impact of his behaviour”.
Mr Raab, who has rejected the claims of bullying, remains under investigation by lawyer Adam Tolley KC, who is believed to have spoken to dozens of officials during an inquiry into the allegations.
Philip Rycroft, who was permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union under Mr Raab, is believed to have been the first to raise concerns with him, The Times reports. The claim comes after Mr Rycroft told Times Radio on Wednesday that he was “pleased”, having given evidence to the inquiry, that Mr Raab’s behaviour was being investigated.
Simon McDonald, who was permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, reportedly tried to talk to Mr Raab after the latter became foreign secretary. Lord McDonald said last year that people felt “demeaned” by Mr Raab, and that he was “abrasive and controlling”.
Finally, Antonia Romeo, the current permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, is said to have raised concerns when Mr Raab was appointed to his present role by Rishi Sunak in October.
Mr Raab has been approached for comment.
Allies of the justice secretary disputed that the officials in question had raised specific claims about his behaviour, saying that there were no records of any cautions being given. But the prime minister remains under pressure to disclose what he knew about the bullying allegations before appointing Mr Raab as his deputy and justice secretary.
On Saturday, Sir Jake Berry, a former Conservative Party chair, became the most senior Tory to call for the deputy prime minister to be suspended as the investigation continues.
Sir Jake said it would be “very bizarre” for a person in any other workplace to remain in their role if they faced similar accusations.
“When you have 24 allegations outstanding against you – I read in the newspaper there are 24 – it would be very bizarre if you had someone in any other workplace who wasn’t suspended pending that investigation,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster. “MPs and ministers are not some form of special human being; I think they should just be treated like anyone else is in their workplace.”
New accounts from Ministry of Justice staff describe a change in mood within the department between Mr Raab’s sacking by Liz Truss in September last year and his reinstatement by Mr Sunak weeks later.
When he was removed from his post, staff were “breathing a collective sigh of relief”, one anonymous senior official said, adding that “anxiety levels shot through the roof” when he returned.
One member of staff claimed they saw other workers “in floods of tears” and “physically shaken” after encounters with the minister.
This week The Independent revealed further allegations concerning an “abusive attack” Mr Raab is said to have made on leading anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, as well as accusations of racial insensitivity towards comedian Nish Kumar.
Regarding Ms Miller’s claims, a spokesperson for the deputy prime minister said Mr Raab “rejects the description and characterisation” she gave of him.
On the claims of bullying, Mr Raab previously told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions in November that he was “confident that I have behaved professionally throughout”.