Dominic Raab accused of causing 'very costly blockage' in Afghanistan evacuation by 'refusing to speak to staff'

19 November 2022, 10:00

Dominic Raab has been accused of causing costly blockages in the evacuation of Afghanistan
Dominic Raab has been accused of causing costly blockages in the evacuation of Afghanistan. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Dominic Raab has been accused of causing a "very costly blockage" in evacuating people from Afghanistan last year because he refused to speak to staff he regarded as "time-wasters".

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The deputy Prime Minister, who as Foreign Secretary was criticised at the time for his handling of the evacuation of Afghanistan when the US and the UK left the country as the deadly Taliban regime took over, had a poor relationship with staff that affected efforts to move people out of the country, according to the Guardian.

It comes with Mr Raab already facing an investigation into his behaviour after the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agreed to open an independent inquiry after two formal complaints were made against him.

Mr Raab denies the latest claims, which suggest that ahead of the final stages of the UK withdrawal some decisions were "delayed and backed up" as the then-foreign secretary allowed only a small number of senior staff to engage with him and his private office.

James O'Brien reacts to Dominic Raab calling for an investigation into himself over bullying allegations.

According to the report, he described some senior Foreign Office officials as "time wasters".

One source told The Guardian that quick decisions were needed but "we couldn't get him to listen to this message, let alone act on it".

They described the "blockage" as "very costly".

Mr Raab told the Commons on Wednesday that he was "confident" he has behaved "professionally", with Downing Street saying that Mr Sunak still has full confidence in him.

The deputy PM, who is also Justice Secretary, asked for the investigation into bullying himself.

Ex-FCDO Chief says it is plausible bullying could have happened around Dominic Raab

Mr Raab said in a letter to Mr Sunak: "When you entered No 10 Downing Street, on 25th, October, you rightly stated that this government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.

"I am proud to take this as a personal article of faith."I have just been notified that two separate complaints have formally been made against me, in parallel, from my time as Foreign Secretary and my first tenure as Justice Secretary which ended in September of this year.

"I am therefore writing that you commission an independent investigation into the claims as soon as possible."Mr Raab said that he would fully cooperate with the investigation and respect the outcome, adding that he welcomed the opportunity to "address any complaints transparently".

Read more: James O’Brien volunteers himself to investigate Dominic Raab

Read more: Dominic Raab says he’s ‘behaved professionally throughout’ as he faces investigation over bullying complaints

Mr Raab said he had been "blessed" to work with "a wide range of outstanding civil servants".He added: "I have never tolerated bullying, and always sought to reinforce and empower the teams of civil servants working in my respective departments."

It comes after a former top Foreign Office official told LBC he believes the characterisation of Mr Raab as someone who 'could bully' is a plausible one.

Speaking to Andrew Marr, former FCO permanent secretary Simon McDonald also refused to deny that he had to speak to Mr Raab about his behaviour during in the department during Mr Raab’s time as Foreign Secretary.

Some eight people working in Mr Raab's private office claimed to have been bullied or harassed at work, according to a survey from late 2019. Fifteen people said they had witnessed seeing someone else being bullied or treated unfairly

Mr McDonald said: "Dominic Raab is one of the most driven people I ever worked for. He was a tough boss.""Those sound like euphemisms," said Andrew."Maybe they are. I worked closely with him and I didn’t see everything that happened."

"Do you think that the characterisation of Dominic Raab as somebody who could bully and around whom bullying happened is a plausible one?" pressed Andrew.

"Yes," came the response.

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