Dominic Raab accused civil servants of not being able to hack his high standards as he quit the Cabinet today after a report found he bullied his staff.
Mr Raab resigned as justice secretary and deputy prime minister with a furious public broadside at mandarins who could not handle ‘the pace, standards and challenge that I brought’.
He fell on his sword after an independent probe by Adam Tolley KC upheld two of eight complaints against him.
It branded his working style ‘inquisitorial, direct, impatient and fastidious’ and found no ‘persuasive evidence’ he shouted or swore at people.
But it ruled that in two cases, while foreign secretary and at the ministry of justice, he engaged in ‘intimidating behaviour’ and insulted civil servants.
The report was delivered to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yesterday morning but he failed to make a decision on Mr Raab’s future in the 24 hours before he stepped down.
Mr Raab made it clear in his resignation letter – published on Twitter – that he did not agree with the findings. But he said he stepped down because he had pledged to do so if the report went against him, a decision backed by the PM today.
But in a stinging attack on the Civil Service, Mr Raab said: ‘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.’
Mr Raab resigned as justice secretary and deputy prime minister with a furious public broadside at mandarins who could not handle ‘the pace, standards and challenge that I brought’
He fell on his sword after an independent probe by Adam Tolley KC upheld two of eight complaints against him, sparing Rishi Sunak the decision of whether to fire him
Mr Raab had said he would quit if it upheld any of the complaints against him. And in his letter to the PM this morning he said it was ‘important to keep my word’.
The former Tory leadership contender quit following a day of agonising by the Prime Minister over whether to sack him after he received Adam Tolley KC’s report.
Friends had last night insisted he would ‘fight to the death’ to save his job and career.
After reading Mr Tolley’s report, a Tory former Cabinet minister described it to MailOnline as ‘snowflake central’.
What was Raab accused of and what did he do?
Mr Tolley’s five-month investigation looked into eight formal complaints about Mr Raab’s conduct as Brexit secretary and foreign secretary, and in his previous tenure leading the Ministry of Justice.
The senior lawyer stopped short of ruling whether Mr Raab’s behaviour amounted to bullying but made multiple findings that fit his definition of bullying.
But it also found no evidence that Mr Raab shouted, swore or gesticulated angrily at staff.
Instead it found that he behaved intimidatingly towards civil servants by criticising their work, interrupting them in meetings and suggesting they were in breach of their Civil service code of ethics.
Mr Raab acted in an ‘intimidating’ fashion with ‘unreasonably and persistently aggressive conduct’ in a work meeting while he was foreign secretary, the report said.
He also committed an ‘abuse or misuse of power in a way that undermines or humiliates’ with a staffing move, which Mr Raab argued was key to Brexit negotiations on Gibraltar with Spain.
But Mr Tolley said he ‘introduced an unwarranted punitive element’ while his conduct was inevitably ‘experienced as undermining or humiliating by the affected individual’.
On a separate occasion while running the Foreign Office, Mr Raab was found to have caused a ‘significant adverse effect’ on a civil servant by issuing ‘unspecified disciplinary action’, suggesting there had been a breach of the Civil Service Code.
Mr Raab was found to have criticised the ”obstructiveness’ of officials and described some work as ‘utterly useless’ and ‘woeful’.
Mr Tolley said behaviour that constitutes bullying under the ministerial code if it could be characterised as offensive, intimidating or insulting, or amount to a misuse of power in a way that undermines or humiliates.
Staff had told the inquiry that he put his hand towards someone’s face ‘with a view to stop them talking’ and banged on tables.
But Mr Tolley wrote: He added: ‘I was not convinced that the DPM used physical gestures in a threatening way, although those unused to this style of communication might well have found it disconcerting.’
A total of 44 pieces of written evidence and 66 interviews were taken into consideration by Adam Tolley KC, the report said.
Dominic Raab was interviewed four times over the space of around two-and-a-half days and engaged ‘seriously and conscientiously in the process’, Mr Tolley said.
In the report conclusions he said: ‘On a number of occasions at meetings with policy officials, the DPM 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).
‘By way of example, he complained about the absence of what he referred to as ”basic information” or ”the basics”, about ”obstructiveness” on the part of officials whom he perceived to be resistant to his policies, and described some work as ”utterly useless” and ”woeful”.
‘The DPM did not intend by the conduct described to upset or humiliate. Nor did he target anyone for a specific type of treatment.
‘His interruptive style is not itself behaviour that could be regarded as intimidating or insulting. However, individuals who had previously experienced the DPM express an unconstructive criticism of their work (and understood it as a criticism of them personally) might reasonably have interpreted a series of interruptions as a form of implicit criticism.
‘The combination of unconstructive critical feedback and regular interruption is likely to be experienced as intimidating, in the sense of being unreasonably difficult to deal with, and plainly was so experienced by some individuals.’
He added: ‘The DPM has been able to regulate this level of ”abrasiveness” since the announcement of the investigation. He should have altered his approach earlier.’
Mr Raab had previously pledged to quit if it upheld any of the complaints against him. And in his letter to the PM this morning he said it was ‘important to keep my word’.
But he also added: ‘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.
‘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.’
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’.
In full: Dominic Raab’s resignation letter to Rishi Sunak
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to resign from your government, following the 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, nore 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.
He also told Mr Sunak that he remained fully supportive of him and the government.
‘You have proved a great Prime Minister in very challenging times, and you can count on my support from the backbenches.’
In his letter to Dominic Raab, Rishi Sunak said: ‘When formal complaints about your conduct in different ministerial posts were submitted last year, I appointed at your request an independent investigator to conduct a full investigation into the specific facts surrounding these complaints.
‘Adam Tolley KC has now submitted his report and I have carefully considered its findings, as well as consulting the independent adviser on ministers’ interests.
‘As you say, you had – rightly – undertaken to resign if the report made any finding of bullying whatsoever. You have kept your word.
‘But it is clear that there have been shortcomings in the historic process that have negatively affected everyone involved. We should learn from this how to better handle such matters in future.’
The eight complaints against Mr Raab were believed to centre on his behaviour as foreign secretary, Brexit secretary and during his first stint as justice secretary.
Sir Keir Starmer has Mr Sunak’s failure to sack Dominic Raab, instead allowing him to resign, demonstrates the Prime Minister’s weakness.
During a visit to Middlesbrough, the Labour leader told broadcasters: ‘There’s a double weakness here. He should never have appointed him in the first place, along with other members of the Cabinet that shouldn’t have been appointed, and then he didn’t sack him.
‘Even today, it’s Raab who resigned rather than the Prime Minister who acts.’
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: ‘There has been a toxic culture at the top of government for too long with civil servants and public trust paying the price for this chaos. The Prime Minister now needs to clean out the rest of the stables.
‘These issues go to the heart of the anger and distrust many people feel towards the way our country runs. It is time for ministers to step up and to start restoring trust both for civil servants and the good of the country.
‘It is never easy to speak out about abuse from someone in power and I would like to pay tribute to those who have had the courage to do so.
‘This should be a wake-up call for ministers, that the way to deliver for the public is to respect and value public servants.’
Mr Raab’s exit as Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary leaves a major gap in Mr Sunak’s Cabinet, with speculation about who will replace the loyal Sunak backer.
It 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.
His decision to stepdown came minutes after Transport Secretary Mark Harper defended the PM for taking his time to come to a decision
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think actually that’s the fair thing to do both for the complainants, who made some serious complaints, but also for Dominic Raab.
‘I think for both sides in this the Prime Minister should take the time.’
The Liberal Democrats have demanded a by-election in Mr Raab’s constituency of Esher and Walton following his ministerial resignation over a report into bullying allegations against him.
The seat is a key ‘blue wall’ target for the party.
Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: ‘Dominic Raab has shown he is not only unfit to serve as a minister, but is totally unfit to represent his constituents in Parliament.
‘He should resign as an MP and trigger a by-election so the people of Esher and Walton can finally have the MP they deserve.’
Dominic Raab: The karate blackbelt and boxing ex-lawyer who clashed with feminists and ran the country when Boris Johnson had Covid before being fired for holidaying while Kabul fell to the Taliban
Dominic Raab resigned as deputy prime minister and justice secretary today for bulling staff – the second time he has been given the boot from a major government role.
The Brexiteer former lawyer was kicked out by Rishi Sunak after a damning report tore into his treatment of civil servants at the Ministry of Justice.
The karate black belt, who has cultivated a hardman image in government, was given his marching orders by the Prime Minister.
It comes less than two years after he was sacked as foreign secretary, after failing to cut short a summer holiday while Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.
It is a major fall from grace for a man who was the de facto prime minister as recently as 2020, when he stood in for the hospitalised Boris Johnson during the Covid pandemic.
The former Foreign Office lawyer’s political career has been dogged by controversy, including over his treatment of staff.
The father-of-two, who is married to a Brazilian marketing executive called Erika who used to work for Google, has sought to create something of a ‘hard man’ image in Westminster.
His website once boasted that he ‘holds a black belt 3rd dan in karate and is a former UK Southern Regions champion and British squad member’.
He captained the karate club at Oxford University where he studied law and was also a boxing blue as a member of the institution’s famous amateur boxing club.
Mr Raab is clearly proud of his time as a university boxer, having previously handed a picture of him in his shorts and vest to a TV company to use for a profile of him when he ran for the leadership of the party in 2019.
At the time he said he continued to train at a boxing club in Thames Ditton and has a poster of Muhammad Ali in his House of Commons office.
Dominic Raab, pictured with his wife Erika in June 2019 during his Tory leadership run, was first elected as an MP in 2010
Mr Raab’s bulging muscles and athletic frame leap out of a photo taken during his days as an Oxford University boxing blue in 1995
In 2019 he said he continued to train at a boxing club in Thames Ditton and has a poster of Muhammad Ali in his House of Commons office.
In 2006, when he was appointed chief of staff to fellow Tory David Davis, the former Special Forces reservist said Mr Raab’s karate black belt impressed him more than his two Oxbridge degrees – the second came in the form of a Masters from Cambridge.
Mr Raab said karate helped him cope with the premature death of his Jewish father, Peter, who had fled to the UK from Czechoslovakia at the age of six in 1938 to escape the Nazis.
Mr Raab was just 12 when his father died of cancer. ‘Sport helped restore my confidence, and that hugely benefited my attitude to school and life,’ he said.
‘There were strong role models, camaraderie and an ethos of respect. I take the discipline and focus I learnt from sport into my professional life – and I believe that approach is vital to making a success of the Brexit negotiations and delivering a fairer deal from Brussels.’
The Foreign Secretary released pictures during his failed Tory leadership campaign of his Jewish relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust.
He described how a young Peter Raab had escaped from his home country but the majority of his family were left behind and would later be murdered because of their faith.
His father learned English, worked for M&S as a food manager and met his mother Jean, who was from Bromley, Kent.
The First Secretary of State was born in Buckinghamshire, growing up in Gerrards Cross and attending Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, before going to Oxford University.
Despite his karate black belt, Mr Raab was upset when civil servants who worked for him as Brexit Secretary anonymously described him as a bully.
He has been under investigation for months over eight formal complaints about his behaviour as foreign secretary, Brexit secretary and during his first stint as justice secretary.
Dominic and his sister Judy with their grandmothers at home in Buckinghamshire in the 1980s
A young Dominic Raab, 9, with mother Jean, father Peter and sister Jody. His father died when Raab was 12.
The Tory heavyweight said his father (pictured) was welcomed by a ‘free and tolerant’ Britain
Mr Raab described during the Tory leadership contest (video pictured left) how his father Peter had fled the Nazis in 1938 and came to Britain aged six (right)
He denied claims, made by his former diary secretary, that he insisted on the same Pret a Manger lunch every day.
The ‘Dom Raab special’ apparently consists of a chicken Caesar and bacon baguette, superfruit pot and a vitamin volcano smoothie.
Westminster was stunned in July 2019 when Mr Johnson became Prime Minister and chose to select Mr Raab, a self-styled Tory ‘tough guy’, as his future stand-in.
Many were expecting the 46-year-old to be rewarded with a big job after he backed the PM in the Tory leadership contest when his own bid fell flat.
But few had anticipated Mr Raab being awarded one of the four great offices of state – Foreign Secretary – while even fewer predicted he would be designated Mr Johnson’s deputy as First Secretary of State.
However, the appointment made political sense for the new premier given Mr Raab’s hardline Brexit credentials.
Mr Raab was one of the most vocal supporters of the UK leaving the EU and his appointment to the highest echelons of government reassured Eurosceptic Tory MPs that the PM was not going to go soft on Brussels after winning power.
Becoming Foreign Secretary represented a massive step up for Mr Raab in terms of government responsibility having only held one Cabinet role prior to his major promotion.
Mr Raab, first elected as the Conservative MP for Esher and Walton in 2010, had to wait five years before getting a proper ministerial job.
And after slowly climbing the Whitehall ladder he finally broke into the Cabinet in July 2018 after receiving the call from Theresa May to be her new Brexit Secretary following the resignation of David Davis.
However, he would only last until November of the same year as he also quit in protest at the then-PM’s Brexit plans – just like his predecessor.
Having entered the Tory leadership contest in late May 2019, he was quickly eliminated but swiftly announced he was supporting Mr Johnson’s candidacy.
He was then subsequently appointed Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State on July 24, 2019.
However, he spent little more than a year in the job. He was widely pilloried in August 2021 when it emerged he refused to cut short a luxury holiday in Crete while Kabul was taken by the Taliban, sparking a massive airlift of westerners and their allies likened to the fall of Saigon.
A source told the Mail on Sunday he had been told by a senior Downing Street official on Friday August 13 that he should return to London immediately as the situation in Kabul deteriorated, and that there had been ‘much gnashing of teeth’ when he delayed his homecoming until the early hours of Monday morning.
The claim was strongly denied by friends of Mr Raab, who insisted that he was assured by Boris Johnson that he could stay with his family until the end of the weekend.
But he was moved to justice the following month and a damning report by MPs later said a fundamental lack of planning and preparation by Mr Raab and senior officials meant the withdrawal from Afghanistan was ‘a disaster and a betrayal of our allies’. They said the incompetence may have cost lives.
While foreign secretary, Mr Raab was soon thrust into handling the Transatlantic fall-out over the death of British teenager Harry Dunn, who was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.
The fact Mr Dunn’s parents tried to heckle Mr Raab at a constituency hustings event was indicative of how well the family felt he dealt with obtaining justice for their son as the government tried and failed to persuade the US to extradite the teenager’s alleged killer.
Mr Raab also had to manage the thorny issue of repatriating children of British jihadis.
Early on in his parliamentary career Mr Raab sparked a furious row after he wrote an article in which he argued ‘feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots’.
He refused to apologise and stuck by his comments, defending them last year when he was challenged on them during the Tory leadership battle.
He said he stood by what he had said because he believed it is ‘really important that in the debate on equality we have a consistency and not double standards and hypocrisy’.
Mr Raab has also said he is ‘probably not’ a feminist, sparking a further backlash.
He found himself again at the centre of a storm of controversy in May 2017 after claiming that people who use food banks are not typically in poverty but have an occasional ‘cashflow problem’.
Critics labelled the remarks ‘stupid and deeply offensive’.
He also got into hot water in 2019 after he said he would keep open the option of suspending Parliament in order to prevent MPs blocking Brexit.
His past comments, and his hardline stance on Brexit, have not endeared Mr Raab to his political opponents.
At the 2019 general election he was relentlessly targeted by the Liberal Democrats in his Surrey constituency and came relatively close to being ousted.
He had previously held the seat with majorities of more than 20,000 votes but in December 2019 he held on with a majority of just under 3,000 as the Lib Dems surged, capitalising on the pro-Remain vote.
His seat is a major target for the party at the next election, expected in the autumn of 2024.
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