Dominic Raab “made a member of staff cry”, an ex-colleague has claimed in the latest in a string of allegations of bullying made against the deputy prime minister.
Mr Raab is the subject of an investigation into claims he bullied multiple members of staff and he has committed to resigning from government if the allegations against him are upheld. Mr Raab has strongly denied that he is a bully.
In the latest claims, a colleague who advised Mr Raab in one department, told the BBC: “I didn’t personally feel bullied. I did observe though what I would characterise as bullying behaviour. There is no question in my mind about that.”
They said Mr Raab “expected high standards of people” but claimed he was “pretty belittling in terms of how he would go about those things”.
“And he would frequently humiliate members of his private office and/or others that are working with him,” they said.
Somebody who advised Mr Raab in a senior role in one department said: “At a flick of a switch he could turn incredibly angry and pretty offensive in the way in which he talked to people.”
One senior official also said: “Junior officials were, to all intents and purposes, protected from being exposed to his nastiness, his humiliation, his belittling, and therefore would not be invited to go to meetings with him.
“The effect was that he probably achieved something that no minister or secretary of state should try to achieve, which was to shut up those who are meant to be advising him. If you don’t treat people humanely, fairly, with respect, the implications are that you’re not going to get back quality outcomes.”
One of Mr Raab’s former parliamentary staffers said they did not think he was a bully, but said reports about his behaviour resonated with what they had witnessed.
“There were a handful of occasions where I observed him make a member of staff cry, because he was not happy with their work. That was probably one of the things that I found most uncomfortable,” they said.
“I think if a colleague cries and they come back to their desk and they’re still fretting, and that happens more than once, then I think anybody should recognise that somebody is hurt from that interaction.”
“If a member of his staff had delivered some work, which he didn’t think was at the standard it should have been, he would tear it apart – frankly literally at times. I did observe that,” they added.
“The reason I left was the intensity of the job. I think both professionally and emotionally.”
An investigation into Mr Raab’s behaviour was announced in November after he came under pressure following numerous claims, including that he was so demeaning to junior colleagues that many were “scared” to enter his office. Mr Raab has maintained that he always acted with professionalism and integrity and “has never shouted or sworn”.
A different official, who has given evidence to the inquiry and worked with Mr Raab in multiple departments, said even in the most challenging experiences they had “never seen him swear or raise his voice”.
“He was always very focused on his job, but always super nice, more perceptive than you’d realise,” they said.
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.”
The investigation into the bullying allegations is being led by senior lawyer Adam Tolley KC with dozens of people including the deputy prime minister giving evidence to the inquiry.