Dominic Raab is facing fresh allegations of bullying, with pro-remain campaigner Gina Miller becoming the latest to accuse the deputy prime minister.
Ms Miller, who helped secure a court procedure over the legality of Brexit, said the Vote Leave mainstay “bullied and demeaned” her, calling her “stupid” and “naive” during an “aggressive” encounter at the BBC in 2016.
She is the first to go on the record with her complaint, as revealed by The Independent. However, Mr Raab has faced questions over his conduct for some time with FDA union leader Dave Penman saying civil servants had quit or changed roles because of his behaviour.
Rishi Sunak is under increasing pressure to explain if he knew about the allegations against Mr Raab before he appointed him to the cabinet, with No 10 so far only ruling out that the PM was aware of “formal complaints”.
Mr Raab has denied any wrongdoing.
Here is a timeline of how the case mounted against him.
Former civil servant and lawyer Mr Raab enters Parliament as Conservative MP for Esher and Walton in 2010. He is a prominent leave supporter in the lead-up to the 2016 referendum and gets his break in 2018 when he becomes Brexit secretary.
It was in 2016 that Ms Miller says Mr Raab bullied her. A source close to Mr Raab responded to the allegations, saying: “These are baseless and malicious claims, timed to jump on a political bandwagon and give Gina Miller the publicity she craves.”
It is reported in October 2022 that “concerns were raised” about Mr Raab’s behaviour as secretary of state in 2018. A document outlining a “serious expression of concern” was dispatched to the Cabinet Office citing unprofessional, even bullying conduct of the minister towards his private office. No action was taken.
An ally of Boris Johnson, Mr Raab becomes foreign minister in 2019 having himself unsuccessfully stood for the top job after Theresa May’s departure. He was also de facto deputy prime minister and filled in for Mr Johnson while the PM was not well enough to attend Covid briefings when he was struck down by the virus.
Mr Raab’s tenure coincided with a 24 per cent staff departure rate in the 2019/20 financial year, and 28 per cent in 2020/21 compared to 12 per cent in 2021/22 – although sources have said this was coincidental.
September 2021 – September 2022
Mr Raab was made justice secretary in September, a role he held for the first time for a year. News stories published on November 21, 2022, claim that he behaved so badly in a meeting with home office chiefs that he had to apologise afterwards for his behaviour. He leaves the role as Liz Truss takes office.
Mr Raab is reappointed justice minister only one month later under new prime minister Rishi Sunak who, crucially, has denied knowledge of any of the allegations to come at this point. He also takes the deputy prime minister role and has filled in for his boss on occasion at prime minister’s questions.
Around 15 senior civil servants at the department are reportedly offered “respite or a route out” with some still traumatised by his previous behaviour.
Two official complaints are made against Mr Raab relating to his time as justice secretary. Mr Raab vows to “thoroughly rebut and refute” the accusations.
Simon McDonald, former head of the diplomatic service, said he warned Mr Raab and told him to change his behaviour. “It was language, it was tone, he would be very curt with people. And he did this in front of a lot of other people,” he said.
On November 16, the prime minister said he would appoint an independent investigator to examine claims of alleged bullying. The request was made by Mr Raab himself after two formal complaints were made. The deputy prime minister said he would “respect whatever outcome” Mr Sunak decided, although he continued to deny the allegations.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on the same day, Labour MP Clive Betts called out Mr Raab about the “integrity” promise made by the government. Mr Raab insists he has done nothing wrong, adding: “I am confident I have behaved professionally throughout. I immediately asked the prime minister to set up an independent investigation and I will comply with it fully.”
On November 23, Mr Sunak appointed experienced barrister Adam Tolley KC to investigate. The next day “fresh complaints” are said to come forward across a number of departments. It is reported on Newsnight that they are to submit formal complaints. On November 25, the inquiry is expanded to include a third complaint.
The inquiry is expanded further with five new complainants submitting official requests, bringing the total to eight. Leaked reports of a civil service survey suggest nearly a third (30 per cent) of all workers under Mr Raab had reported being bullied at some point. Mr Raab claimed that nobody had raised concerns during his years in the roles.
“He genuinely thinks he’s just being a tough taskmaster,” a source told the media. “He just doesn’t get that this behaviour is not acceptable in the modern workplace.”
Calls for Mr Raab to be suspended intensify with three senior civil servants interviewed as part of the process. Mr Sunak has, has so far, withstood pressure to sack him.
Mr Sunak refused to say on Wednesday, 1 February, whether he knew of complaints about his behaviour before appointing him.
“The prime minister was not aware of any formal complaints at the time of appointing Dominic Raab,” the prime minister’s press secretary said. “Following formal complaints being made, the prime minister asked for the facts to be established.”
As many as 24 civil servants have now made complaints. Mr Raab still denies any wrongdoing and Mr Tolley’s investigation is continuing.