A third of employees claim bullying in Raab’s private office team | Dominic Raab

A third of staff in Dominic Raab’s private office at the Ministry of Justice have claimed to have been bullied or harassed while working in their current team in the past year, according to an internal Whitehall investigation.

The results of this week’s survey of civil servants, which have been leaked to the Guardian, show that 10 of the 33 people who worked most closely with the justice secretary said they had been subjected to bad behaviour.

The figure, which represents 30% of the total number of officers in the Private Office Directorate, is more than four times the 7% who claimed to have been bullied or harassed at work in the previous year. The Directorate of Private Offices includes officials who work for Raab, his junior ministers and the MoJ’s permanent secretary.

The figures are significantly higher in the private office than in the rest of the MoJ’s Whitehall headquarters, where 8% of officials claimed to have been bullied or harassed while at work in both years. For the entire civil service, the figure was 7%.

The survey, which is completed by all MoJ staff in September and October each year, is anonymous and does not reveal who is accused of bullying within the team.

Raab faces eight formal complaints about alleged bullying, six of them from his first term in the role, which he held for 12 months until September 2022, when he was sacked by Liz Truss. He was reappointed a month later by Rishi Sunak.

The Deputy Prime Minister has promised to “thoroughly rebut and rebut” the first three official complaints he already faces, one from the MoJ and two from his time as Foreign Secretary and Brexit Secretary.

The latest five formal allegations, confirmed by No 10 on Wednesday, came as a blow to Raab’s bid to clear his name and raise yet more questions about Sunak’s judgment in re-appointing him to such a senior post.

The fresh complaints are understood to be from senior civil servants with direct experience of alleged bullying and aggressive behavior from Raab during his first term in the job.

Senior Tories have questioned why the justice secretary has been allowed to stay in the post while the growing number of complaints against him are investigated.

Former party leader Jake Berry told Talk TV that keeping Raab in place was a “hard line for the government to maintain”, adding: “In the real world, people will look at this and say it doesn’t feel right.”

The shadow Home Office secretary, Stephen Kinnock, said Raab should be suspended while the complaints were investigated by the lead employment lawyer, Adam Tolley KC, who was appointed by Sunak.

He told the BBC: “There is a very strong case for him to be suspended and there is a very strong case for him to review his position. This is an outrageous number of complaints against him.”

However, No 10 rejected calls to suspend Raab. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We believe the right approach is to let the independent investigator do his work and not pre-empt that process.”

Last week, Raab claimed officials had never raised concerns about his behavior during seven years in ministerial roles, as he hit out at anonymous briefings to the media and insisted he always conducted himself professionally.

However, The Guardian has reported that Antonia Romeo, the MoJ’s permanent secretary, had to speak to Raab when he returned to the department under Sunak, to warn him that he must treat staff professionally and with respect amid the turmoil of his return.

The Guardian also reported that Raab was warned about his behavior towards officials during his time as foreign secretary by the department’s top civil servant, who then informally reported his concerns to the Cabinet Office’s integrity and ethics team.

A source said: “The problem is Dom doesn’t even know he’s doing it. There is something missing somewhere. He genuinely believes that he is just a tough supervisor. He just doesn’t understand that this behavior is not acceptable in the modern workplace.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *