Sunak under pressure amid reports second cabinet minister faces bullying allegations

This follows the resignation of former education secretary Gavin Williamson

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Friday 11 November 2022 20:17 GMT
Gavin Williamson resigns amid bullying allegations

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Louise Thomas

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Rishi Sunak is facing growing questions about his judgement after reports emerged that another cabinet minister he appointed last week is embroiled in allegations of bullying.

Former education secretary Gavin Williamson resigned from the government on Tuesday, saying he wanted to clear his name.

Now Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for an investigation into allegations surrounding the behaviour of the justice secretary, Dominic Raab.

Last night the Daily Mirror reported that Mr Raab was nicknamed “The Incinerator” because he “burns through” staff so quickly.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “These deeply troubling accusations of bullying and intimidation raise yet more questions about Rishi Sunak’s judgement. The prime minister must come clean on what he knew about these allegations when he reappointed Dominic Raab as deputy prime minister as well as justice secretary, and they must be investigated urgently and independently.

“With each new scandal and grubby deal, it becomes more obvious that he is a weak leader who puts party management before the national interest.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Dominic Raab now joins a long list of Conservative ministers to have allegations made against them for inappropriate behaviour.

“These latest reports cannot be brushed under the carpet by Rishi Sunak. He must launch an investigation into Raab with immediate effect.

“No staff, whether in the civil service or any other sector, should be subjected to working with or for a bully.”

The allegations were first reported in The Guardian newspaper.

Sources close to Mr Raab denied he was a bully and said he had a good working relationship with his officials, whom he rates highly, and had never faced a formal complaint in any of the multiple government departments in which he has worked. They also denied reports that he had frequent changes of staff and said they did not recognise the nickname.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson told the newspaper there was “zero tolerance for bullying across the civil service”.

They added: “The deputy prime minister leads a professional department, driving forward major reforms, where civil servants are valued and the level of ambition is high.”

It is not the first time that Mr Raab has served as justice secretary.

He held the post between September 2021 and September 2022, when he was sacked by Liz Truss.

He was widely seen as a victim of her demand for loyalty because he was an early backer of her opponent Mr Sunak in this summer’s Tory leadership contest.

He was famously in charge of the country at the height of the first wave of Covid, standing in for then prime minister Boris Johnson when the latter was in intensive care battling the disease.

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