Sunak 'doesn't recognise characterisation' of Raab amid bullying claims

Eight people working in Dominic Raab's private office when he was foreign secretary claimed to have been bullied or harassed at work, according to a people's survey from late 2019. Credit: PA

Rishi Sunak has hit back at claims about Dominic Raab’s behaviour at the Ministry of Justice and previously as foreign and Brexit secretary, saying: “I don’t recognise that characterisation of Dominic.”

The prime minister insisted that civil servants have established procedures they can follow if they want to “bring to light any issues” but said he was not aware of any formal complaints against Mr Raab.

It came after ITV news revealed that 40% of staff in his private office when he was foreign secretary, in 2019, claimed to have been bullied or harassed at work, and 75% had witnessed bullying or poor treatment.

Asked about the figures, Mr Sunak said: “My understanding is that these surveys are annual and relate to the overall work environment, not to individuals.”

It is the case that the leaked survey does not name any individuals, and there is no way of knowing who the bullying claims are aimed at. 

However, it only covers Mr Raab’s private office, which had fewer than 30 individuals working inside it.

Meanwhile sources have told me that they heard of similar behaviour from Mr Raab as being alleged at the Ministry of Justice. 

The Guardian claimed staff had been offered “respite or a route out” when Mr Raab was reappointed justice secretary because of his rude and demeaning behaviour, with sources confirming to ITV news that some had been in tears. 

One senior Whitehall source also claimed similar concerns had been raised in 2018 when Mr Raab was Brexit secretary. The source told me that an official was so disturbed by the way that staff were being treated that they wrote down their concerns and shared them with the Cabinet office. 

They suggested this may have been an “expression of concern”. The Cabinet office said there had been no formal complaint.

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