Dominic Raab asks Rishi Sunak to launch probe into misconduct claims

Dominic Raab on Wednesday called on Rishi Sunak to commission an independent investigation into his alleged misconduct, as the deputy prime minister confirmed that he remained “committed” to serving in government.

Raab, who last month returned to his post as justice secretary, has faced a stream of allegations regarding his personal conduct. Recent reports in The Guardian newspaper have alleged that he created a “culture of fear” and displayed “aggressive behaviour” during a previous stint as justice secretary between September 2021 and September 2022.

It has also been reported that Raab, while serving as foreign secretary between July 2019 and September 2021, was warned about alleged bullying behaviour by Lord Simon McDonald, then permanent secretary at the Foreign Office.

McDonald this week told LBC that it was “plausible” that Raab had engaged in bullying behaviour, describing him as a “tough boss”.

In a letter to the prime minister, Raab said he had been made aware that two separate formal complaints relating to his two previous ministerial terms had been made against him.

As a result, he called on Sunak to commission an independent investigation into the claims as soon as possible, writing that he would “co-operate fully and respect whatever outcome you decide”. 

“I have always sought to set high standards and forge teams that can deliver for the British people amidst the acute challenges that we have faced in recent years,” Raab added. “I have never tolerated bullying, and always sought to reinforce and empower the teams of civil servants working in my respective departments.”

Writing in response, Sunak said he recognised that Raab was “keen to address the complaints”, adding that “integrity, professionalism and accountability” remained “core [government] values”.

Speaking in the House of Commons during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Raab said he was confident that he had behaved “professionally”. He told MPs: “I will take it as an article of personal faith that we behave with absolute integrity and accountability.”

The claims relating to Raab have raised further questions for Sunak after he pledged to lead a government based on “integrity, professionalism and accountability” — a push to break with the scandals of his predecessor Boris Johnson.

But his efforts have been hit in recent weeks by the forced resignation of Sir Gavin Williamson, former minister without portfolio, who was accused of bullying a Tory colleague and civil servants, and criticism of home secretary Suella Braverman, who admitted that she had sent official documents to a personal email address.

Williamson now faces an informal investigation by Downing Street and a formal an inquiry by parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme into allegations of misconduct.

Speaking at the G20 summit in Indonesia, Sunak stressed that he was not aware of any allegations prior to reappointing Raab, but urged individuals to “come forward” and voice their concerns via a formal complaint process.

“I don’t recognise that characterisation of Dominic and I’m not aware of any formal complaints about him,” he told the BBC. “Of course there are established procedures for civil servants if they want to bring to light any issues.”

Opposition parties questioned the integrity of any government-led probe.

Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, accused Sunak and Raab of “treating the British public like fools”. She added: “This must not be a whitewashed report. A new independent ethics adviser must be appointed by Rishi Sunak and given this as their first task.”

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