Raab has said he will resign from Cabinet if the bullying allegations against him are upheld, as he dismissed calls for him to be suspended while the investigation runs its course…reports Asian Lite News
Rishi Sunak has “full confidence” in Dominic Raab while he “carefully considers” the long-awaited report into bullying allegations against the Deputy Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed the months-long review by Adam Tolley KC was received by No 10 on Thursday morning, but the BBC has said that no decision on his deputy’s future will be announced today. Raab has been under investigation over eight formal complaints about his behaviour as Foreign Secretary, Brexit Secretary, and during his first stint as Justice Secretary.
Raab has consistently denied bullying staff and says he always “behaved professionally”. He has said he will resign from Cabinet if the bullying allegations against him are upheld, as he dismissed calls for him to be suspended while the investigation runs its course.
Downing Street has said the PM is still considering the report, but wanted to publish it “as swiftly as possible”. A spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has received the report from Adam Tolley, the independent investigator. He received the findings this morning – he is considering those findings,” the spokesman said.
“He does have full confidence in the (Deputy) Prime Minister – that still stands. Obviously he is carefully considering the findings of the report.”
According to the Sunday Telegraph, the report may not specify whether Raab breached the ministerial code or not, but instead will lay out a timeline of facts and events. The latest edition of the register of ministers’ interests, published this week, reveals that Raab has paid for his own lawyers to defend him during the investigation.
Raab has remained in post as the Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister throughout the probe, but Dave Penman, head of the FDA union, said that “any other employee…would in all likelihood be suspended” until the investigation is concluded.
Conservative allies have backed Raab, with Jacob Rees-Mogg warning against being “too snowflakey” over bullying allegations, and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan rejected calls for Raab to be suspended.
The three permanent secretaries who led officials working under Raab are thought to have given evidence to an inquiry into the Justice Secretary being led by Tolley.
The former Tory party chair Jake Berry has said Raab should have been suspended while the investigation was being carried, and called the system for handling complaints in Westminster “outdated”.
Appearing on ITV’s Peston show on Wednesday night, Berry, said: “It does seem to me quite wrong that when people are under these kinds of investigations of this type that they continue in their job.”
He added: “Whatever the outcome is, and we’re going to find out tomorrow, I actually think there’s a fundamental rethink required about how we deal with these sorts of allegations, both in Government made against ministers and made against Members of Parliament. It’s a massively outdated system that isn’t what our constituents would expect of any of us.”
Raab has rejected calls for him to be suspended while the investigation takes place, but said he will “co-operate fully with the inquiry, and I’ll respect the outcome of it”.
He told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: “I think, actually, just by lodging complaints, you can knock out a Cabinet minister or senior figure, (I am) not sure that is right. We believe in innocent until proven guilty in this country and I’ll co-operate fully with the inquiry, and I’ll respect the outcome of it.”
Asked whether he will then resign if the complaint is upheld, at first, Raab said he was not going to start speculating on what the outcome might be. Pressed further, he said: “Allow me to respond in the right way at the right time, of course. Look, if an allegation of bullying is upheld, I will resign.”
Raab also said he believed there should be more “plain speaking in politics”. He said: “What we need, and I think this can be reconciled absolutely with having a zero tolerance on bullying, you need ministers who come in and correctly but directly challenge assumptions, test ideas — that is the way we get the best out of Government.”
Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, dismissed Raab’s comments, insisting civil servants do not “have the confidence” to challenge bullying or harassment by senior figures in Whitehall.
He told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: “The picture he paints is that everything is fine in the civil service and the relationship between ministers and civil servants is OK. That’s not the picture civil servants speak of, that’s not their experience.
“One in six are saying they have experienced bullying or harassment, or have witnessed that, in the last 12 months alone across 20 Government departments. They don’t have the confidence of challenging those behaviours.”
Penman previously told the BBC that Raab should be suspended to protect other members of staff while the investigation is conducted. He said: “If that was any other employee, if that was a permanent secretary in the civil service, they would in all likelihood be suspended from their job while the investigation took place.
“That’s not to prejudge the investigation, that’s to say if there are serious allegations of bullying and extensive allegations like this, that one of the considerations is how do you protect employees from that sort of behaviour? And while it’s being determined, you would normally suspend someone, given the seriousness and extent of those accusations.”
Raab’s cabinet colleague Keegan rejected calls for him to step aside while Tolley carries out his work. She told Sky News she think it is “fair to let investigations continue”.