A senior lawyer has been appointed by Rishi Sunak to look into allegations of bullying behaviour by Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab. Commercial and employment law specialist Adam Tolley KC will look into the claims made against Mr Raab after two formal complaints were submitted about his conduct. Downing Street has indicated Mr Tolley’s remit could extend to other allegations about Mr Raab after a series of claims related to his time as foreign secretary and his first stint in the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Mr Raab, who returned as justice secretary when the prime minister took office, requested the independent investigation after the two formal complaints about his actions. Mr Tolley was appointed by the prime minister and will report to him.
Downing Street said Mr Sunak will not have to act on any findings made by the investigation because as prime minister he remains the ultimate arbiter of the Ministerial Code. The terms of reference require Mr Tolley to “establish the specific facts” surrounding the formal complaints made against Mr Raab at the Ministry of Justice and the Foreign Office. They specify “the investigation should be completed as swiftly as possible”. Downing Street said the report into Mr Raab, the MP for Esher and Walton, will be published in full but would not put a timeframe on the inquiry, saying only it would be detailed “in a timely way”.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said the lawyer had been appointed to “conduct the investigation, establish the facts and provide his findings”. “He’s asked to look into those two formal complaints to establish the facts. He’s also able to discuss with the prime minister if he wants to look into other issues that may arise.” In an indication that Mr Tolley may be able to interview people and get records of WhatsApp messages and emails, the spokesman said: “He will have access to all the information he wishes to see.”
ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana notes that the inquiry will focus on two complaints- from the MoJ and Foreign office, though there are suggestions there could be more.
It comes after ITV News reported that eight people working in Mr 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.
The results also showed that 15 people reported seeing someone else being bullied or treated unfairly. The survey was of just 20 people - as the private office was quite small and seven did not respond - but the figures represent 40% reporting personal experience of bullying and harassment and 75% witnessing it.
A spokesperson for Mr Raab previously said: "Dominic has high standards, works hard, and expects a lot from his team as well as himself. He has worked well with officials to drive the government's agenda across Whitehall in multiple government departments and always acts with the utmost professionalism."
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