Dominic Raab was 'a bully' and condoned similar behaviour, former official claims

A former Foreign Office official tells ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana Dominic Raab was "a bully", as Carl Dinnen explains the fall out live from Westminster.

  • Report by ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana and ITV News Westminster Producer Lucy McDaid

A former Foreign Office official has claimed not only was Dominic Raab "a bully" when he ran the department, but he also condoned similar behaviour by those around him.

When asked by ITV News if the deputy prime minister was a bully, he said: "I know with 100% certainty. People were terrified to have interactions with him but also to interact with his office."

The former official, whose voice has been disguised to protect his anonymity, told ITV News he was in a room and witnessed the then foreign secretary do "absolutely nothing" when a colleague was being bullied.

"He didn't step in," he added. Asked if that meant Mr Raab was allowing it to happen he said "100%. One of the most powerful men in the country was condoning it and saying that kind of behaviour was acceptable."

He also said Mr Raab placed "unreasonable pressure" on civil servants, getting them to submit work within "unreasonable timeframes" and would turn it away if it didn't meet certain formatting standards.

The revelations come as an investigation into bullying complaints made about the deputy prime minister and justice secretary nears its conclusion. ITV News understands Adam Tolley KC will report the results of the inquiry after Easter.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will then have the final say on whether Mr Raab is guilty and if he will face any sanctions.

ITV News has spoken to several people who have worked with Mr Raab throughout his career from being a backbench MP to a junior minister and Secretary of State

Among the testimonies were:

  • A former ministry of justice official who said, "He was the most difficult minister I've ever had to work with. He saw the system as the enemy rather than as a team of people to be led and directed. There wasn't the sense you were in the same team and I can see how this led to frustration."

  • Another former colleague, from a previous role held by Mr Raab, argued that he turned the office into "a happy, productive place to a miserable hole." They added, "Not all bullies scream - they are sarcastic, demeaning and controlling."

  • But others denied Mr Raab is a bully, insisting he simply had high standards. One told ITV News he was kind, organising events for staff like joke Christmas awards and a summer barbecue each year, branded the "Raab-ecue".

Mr Raab himself has maintained he has always had excellent relationships with civil servants across government and has always acted with professionalism and integrity.

He has also pointed out that after complaints were made, he was the one to immediately request an independent inquiry.

Defending Mr Raab, Conservative MP Helen Grant said he has "zero tolerance for bullying" and is a "decent, hard working minister with high professional standards and a solid work ethic".

The former foreign office official said he thought hard about whether or not it was fair to call Mr Raab a bully. But after looking up the definition of the term he said, "I read it as someone that uses their influence to intimidate other people. And if that is the definition then he was 100% a bully."

"I think you can have high expectations and not be a bully. I think he had high expectations and was a bully," he added.

He said he wasn't surprised by the results of a people's survey leaked to ITV News last year, which showed among those working in Mr Raab's private office in late 2019, 40% of those questioned said they had been bullied or harassed, while 75% said they had witnessed it.

When asked why he never complained about what he experienced while working in the Foreign Office, he referred to the inquiry carried out into the former Home Secretary Priti Patel. Boris Johnson over-ruled the findings of the report into bullying allegations, which found Ms Patel broke the ministerial code.

He and other critics of Mr Raab have also questioned if they can have confidence in Mr Tolley's inquiry due to the fact he is charged with setting out the facts and not reaching a final judgement.

Responding to the fresh claims, Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: "This Conservative government has a troubling track record of brushing allegations of serious misconduct under the carpet."

"It's clear that longstanding concerns about Dominic Raab's behaviour were raised at the very highest level, and yet nothing was done."

Once the inquiry is finished, the final decision will be in the hands of the prime minister, a close ally of Mr Raab.

Speaking on Friday morning, Rishi Sunak refused to say how he will respond to the inquiry's findings but said he is "confident" that the investigation "will happen properly", adding "when it does, we'll go from there".

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