The UK’s deputy prime minister has resigned following the conclusion of an inquiry into bullying accusations.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was handed the 48-page report on Dominic Raab’s behaviour on Thursday.
On Friday morning, the senior Conservative MP announced his resignation as the PM’s deputy and his justice secretary.
Oliver Dowden will take his place as deputy prime minister while Alex Chalk will replace him in the justice department.
Raab is accused of bullying Whitehall officials while in Government – claims he still denies.
Adam Tolley KC’s report found Raab, on several occasions, “acted in a manner which was intimidating, in the sense of going further than was necessary or appropriate in delivering critical feedback, and also insulting, in the sense of making unconstructive critical comments about the quality of work done (whether or not as a matter of substance any criticism was justified).”
It said the deputy prime minister described some officials’ work as “utterly useless” and “woeful”.
Tolley found Raab was persistently aggressive during work meetings.
He says while implementing a certain decision in the role of foreign secretary Raab “acted in a way which was intimidating, in the sense of unreasonably and persistently aggressive conduct in the context of a work meeting”.
It adds: “It also involved an abuse or misuse of power in a way that undermines or humiliates. He introduced an unwarranted punitive element.”
The behaviour is said to have had a “significant adverse impact” on one colleague.
The MP for Esher and Walton said he felt “duty bound to accept the outcome of the inquiry” – which has just been published – but said it had “dismissed all but two of the claims levelled against me”.
“I also believe that its two adverse findings are flawed and set a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government,” Raab said.
The Tory MP said he is “genuinely sorry for any unintended stress or offence that any officials felt” as a result of what he described as the “standards and challenges” he demanded in his time as justice secretary.
But he added: “That is, however, what the public expect of ministers working on their behalf.
“In setting the threshold for bullying so low, this inquiry has set a dangerous precedent.
“It will encourage spurious complaints against ministers, and have a chilling effect on those driving change on behalf of your government – and ultimately the British people.”
The Tory MP also complained to Prime Minister about what he said was a “number of improprieties that came to light during the course of this inquiry”.
He called for an independent review into the “systematic leaking of skewed and fabricated claims to the media in breach of the rules of the inquiry and the Civil Service Code of Conduct, and the coercive removal by a senior official of dedicated Private Secretaries from my Ministry of Justice Private Office, in October of last year”.
He also told Sunak that he remained fully supportive of him and the government.
The eight complaints against Raab were believed to centre on his behaviour as foreign secretary, Brexit secretary and during his first stint as justice secretary.
His exit as deputy prime minister and justice secretary leaves a major gap in Sunak’s Cabinet, with speculation about who will replace the loyal Sunak backer.
Raab’s resignation comes months after the Prime Minister moved to sack Nadhim Zahawi as Conservative Party chair amid controversy over his tax affairs, while Sir Gavin Williamson – another Sunak backer – resigned only days into his premiership after it was alleged he sent expletive-laden messages to a former chief whip.
Dominic Raab’s full resignation statement
Raavb wrote: “Dear Prime Minister,
“I am writing to resign from your government, following receipt of the report arising from the inquiry conducted by Adam Tolley KC. I called for the inquiry and undertook to resign, if it made any finding of bullying whatsoever. I believe it is important to keep my word.
“It has been a privilege to serve you as Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work as a minister in a range of roles and departments since 2015, and pay tribute to the many outstanding civil servants with whom I have worked.
“Whilst I feel duty bound to accept the outcome of the inquiry, it dismissed all but two of the claims levelled against me. I also believe that its two adverse findings are flawed and set a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government. First, ministers must be able to exercise direct oversight with respect to senior officials over critical negotiations conducted on behalf of the British people, otherwise the democratic and constitutional principle of ministerial responsibility will be lost. This was particularly true during my time as Foreign Secretary, in the context of the Brexit negotiations over Gibraltar, when a senior diplomat breached the mandate agreed by Cabinet.
“Second, ministers must be able to give direct critical feedback on briefings and submissions to senior officials, in order to set the standards and drive the reform the public expect of us. Of course, this must be done within reasonable bounds. Mr Tolley concluded that I had not once, in four and a half years, sworn or shouted at anyone, let alone thrown anything or otherwise physically intimidated anyone, nor intentionally sought to belittle anyone. I am genuinely sorry for any unintended stress or offence that any officials felt, as a result of the pace, standards and challenge that I brought to the Ministry of Justice. That is, however, what the public expect of ministers working on their behalf.
“In setting the threshold for bullying so low, this inquiry has set a dangerous precedent. It will encourage spurious complaints against ministers, and have a chilling effect on those driving change on behalf of your government — and ultimately the British people.
“Finally, I raised with you a number of improprieties that came to light during the course of this inquiry. They include the systematic leaking of skewed and fabricated claims to the media in breach of the rules of the inquiry and the Civil Service Code of Conduct, and the coercive removal by a senior official of dedicated private secretaries from my Ministry of Justice private office, in October of last year. I hope these will be independently reviewed.
“I remain as supportive of you and this government, as when I first introduced you at your campaign leadership launch last July. You have proved a great Prime Minister in very challenging times, and you can count on my support from the backbenches.