Key findings from the Dominic Raab bullying report

21 April 2023, 13:01 | Updated: 21 April 2023, 13:11

Dominic Raab says the report sets a "dangerous precedent" and will have a "chilling effect" on the government
Dominic Raab says the report sets a "dangerous precedent" and will have a "chilling effect" on the government. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A report into bullying allegations against Dominic Raab has finally been published after five months - but what did Adam Tolley KC conclude?

Mr Tolley, a senior employment lawyer, was tasked with looking into claims the former justice secretary and deputy PM "bullied and humiliated staff".

The report states the complaints relate to his time in several departments - multiple complaints from his time at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), one complaint at the Foreign Office and one from the Brexit department.

Read More: 'A good day for British democracy': James O'Brien tears into Dominic Raab following his resignation

The former justice secretary has denied the allegations, insisting that he has "behaved professionally at all times", and slammed the report.

So what did Mr Tolley find?

Raab was 'persistently aggressive in work meeting'

Dominic Raab has resigned from his posts as justice secretary and deputy PM
Dominic Raab has resigned from his posts as justice secretary and deputy PM. Picture: Alamy

In relation to the complaint from the Foreign Office, Mr Raab was found to have "acted in a way which was intimidating" and "unreasonable and persistently aggressive" in a work meeting.

The report continued: "It also involved an abuse or misuse of power in a way that undermines or humiliates. He introduced an unwarranted punitive element."

According to Mr Tolley, Mr Raab did not target any one specific with this behaviour and did not threaten anyone with disciplinary action.

"However, he ought to have realised that his reference to the Civil Service Code could well have been understood as a threat," the report adds.

Raab described some work as 'useless' and 'woeful'

The highest number of complaints over Mr Raab's behaviour came from his time in the MoJ.

Mr Tolley praised those within the department for coming forward, saying they "deserve credit for their courage".

But he concludes there is no "basis for any findings" about Mr Raab's conduct based on these complaints.

Mr Tolley found that the ex-deputy PM described some work as "utterly useless" and "woeful" but found, in relation to the MoJ complaints, that Mr Raab "did not intend by the conduct described to upset or humiliate".

It concludes that "unconstructive critical feedback" and "regular interruption" by Mr Raab is likely to have been intimidating for some civil servants.

The report also states that Mr Raab regulated his "abrasiveness" since the investigation began five months and suggests he should have "altered his approach earlier".

"Since the investigation was announced, there has not been any valid ground for criticism of [Raab's] conduct," the report adds.

Raab worked ‘seven-day week’ and has ‘strong principles’

In his investigation, Mr Tolley found that Mr Raab has "strong principles" and often works a seven-day week.

He would work "assiduously and typically" from around 7.30am until 10pm on Monday to Thursdays before dedicating Friday to constituency work.

He would also regularly work on weekends, the report adds.

‘Threatening’ references to civil service code

Mr Raab also made "threatening references to the civil service code, according to the report.

Mr Tolley wrote: "This had a significant adverse effect on a particular individual (a different person from the individual who made the FCDO Complaint), who took it seriously."

According to the report, this could be seen as a "form of intimidating behaviour, in the sense of conveying a threat of unspecified disciplinary action".

Raab used physical gestures to get people to stop talking and ‘banged on tables’

Dominic Raab would regularly work seven-day weeks, the report found
Dominic Raab would regularly work seven-day weeks, the report found. Picture: Alamy

Mr Tolley said he found a significant amount of evidence of Mr Raab's use of "physical gestures" to communicate

He wrote: "This was put as extending his hand directly out towards another person's face with a view to making them stop talking. 

"Another example of such an allegation was loud banging of the table to make a point."

The report added: "I was not convinced that the DPM used physical gestures in a threatening way, although those unused to this style of communication might well have found it disconcerting."

Cleared of swearing and shouting at staff

Mr Raab was, however, cleared of shouting and swearing at any staff, as had been suggested in some reports.

Mr Tolley said there was "no persuasive evidence" that such behaviour took place against any individual or generally.

Dominic Raab resigns
Dominic Raab resigns. Picture: Alamy

As for the complaint from the Department for Exiting the European Union - or the Brexit department - Mr Tolley concluded that Mr Raab's behaviour could not be characterised as "offensive, malicious or insulting".

While the person making the complaint said it was intimidating, the report says, Mr Tolley "could not make a finding as to whether it was in fact intimidating in this sense".

It adds: "There was no evidence to suggest any abuse or misuse of power."

According to Mr Tolley's investigation, "no-one drew to [Mr Raab's[ attention that his conduct was in any way problematic", in relation to this complaint.

Sunak accepts resignation with 'great sadness'

Rishi Sunak has accepted his deputy Dominic Raab&squot;s resignation "with great sadness"
Rishi Sunak has accepted his deputy Dominic Raab's resignation "with great sadness". Picture: Getty

In his own letter to Mr Raab, the prime minister said he accepted his deputy's resignation with "great sadness".

He uses the latter part of the letter to praise Mr Raab's achievements in government, including during the pandemic.

Mr Sunak wrote: "You provided the country...with reassurance and leadership at a moment of profound national concern.

"I was struck by the collegiate way in which you handled the most difficult of challenges."

Read More: Read in full: Dominic Raab's furious resignation letter to the prime minister

Mr Raab has slammed the review by Mr Tolley, saying it "sets a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government".

He added: "In setting the threshold for bullying so low, this enquiry has set a dangerous precedent.

"It will encourage spurious complaints against Ministers, and have a chilling effect on those driving change on behalf of your government - and ultimately the British people."

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