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Dominic Raab says he will resign if found guilty of bullying

‘Innocent until proven guilty’, says deputy PM on investigation into allegations

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Sunday 26 February 2023 10:06 GMT
Dominic Raab commits to resigning if bullying complaints are upheld

Senior cabinet minister Dominic Raab has committed to resigning from government if bullying allegations against him are upheld by an official investigation.

The deputy prime minister has conceded for the first time that he could not carry on if the independent probe ordered by Rishi Sunak finds that he has bullied officials.

Mr Raab – who denies bullying claims – initially refused to answer a question about whether he would quit if the inquiry rules against him, telling Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday that it was a “hypothetical question”.

But pressed again, the deputy PM and justice secretary said: “If an allegation of bullying is upheld I will resign.”

Asked about calls for his resignation during the inquiry, Mr Raab said: “Just by lodging complaints you can knock out a cabinet minister – I’m not sure that’s right. We believe innocent until proven guilty in this country.”

Mr Raab again denied that he is a bully – but said he had learned lessons from his dealings with civil servants in the past.

“Look, in terms of working style, falling short of any of the impropriety you refer to, look of course we learn lessons as we go. But I’m confident that I’ve behaved professionally throughout,” he told BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.

Asked whether there should be “more plain speaking in politics”, he replied: “Yes, absolutely. What we need, and I think this can be reconciled absolutely with having a zero-tolerance on bullying, you need ministers who come in and correctly but directly challenge assumptions, test ideas.”

Mr Sunak tasked lawyer Adam Tolley KC with investigating bullying claims against Mr Raab, with dozens of civil servants believed to be involved in eight formal complaints.

But the prime minister has been under pressure to explain what exactly he knew about the allegations before appointing Mr Raab as his deputy PM and justice secretary.

No 10 has only ruled out Mr Sunak being aware of “formal complaints” before appointing him to cabinet in late October – but refused to deny claims he was offered informal warning about issues with his ally’s alleged behaviour.

Asked when he first became of bullying claims, reportedly first made in March 2022, Mr Raab said: “The first time any complaint I was notified was mid-November, the day before I did PMQs.” Mr Raab said the first conversation he had with Mr Sunak about the complaint said it wasn’t until mid-November.

Allies of Mr Raab have suggested that civil servants are trying to push him out, with one former colleague telling the press that “there is a clear attempt by a group of politically motivated mandarins to get him”.

Former Tory chairman Jake Berry and the FDA union, which represents senior officials, said Mr Raab should be suspended while the investigation is conducted.

FDA general secretary Dave Penman said some staff who worked with Mr Raab have suffered “mental health crises” and had been forced to quit and downgrade jobs as a result of his behaviour.

Meanwhile, Mr Raab has said “good news” on a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol could be delivered within “days, not weeks” and appeared to confirm MPs would get a vote in parliament.

Raab said the UK was looking for a more light touch approach from the EU. Asked whether reports of a “green lane” for GB goods into Northern Ireland were correct, Mr Raab said: “Those are the kind of things we have been pushing for.”

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg progreamme, he said: “MPs will get the chance of expressing themselves … Parliament will have the ability to express itself.”

Mr Raab said it was part of the normal functions of the King to meet senior international figures when asked about reports that European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen was to meet Charles at Windsor Castle on Saturday.

He said: “The King, the monarch, regularly meets heads of states and heads of leading international organisations. The precise timing of it and the scheduling of it, actually, is for the Palace and for the monarchy to decide.”

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