UK Former Tory Chair Calls for Raab to Be Suspended Over Bullying Claims

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is an Irish-based reporter focusing on UK news. Lily first joined the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times before turning her focus on the UK in 2020.
February 4, 2023Updated: February 4, 2023

Former Conservative Party chairman Sir Jake Berry on Saturday called for Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab to be suspended while he is investigated over bullying claims.

Raab is under investigation over a number of allegations that he bullied civil servants in his various ministerial jobs, though the deputy prime minister, who is also the justice secretary, has maintained that he has “behaved professionally throughout.”

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s “The Week in Westminster” programme, Berry said people facing bullying allegations would be suspended in the private sector, and said Parliament and the government should change rules to create a suspension mechanism.

“The way these sort of complaints would be dealt with in the private sector is you would be suspended while they were investigated,” he said, adding that it “would be very bizarre” if someone doesn’t get suspended pending that investigation.

“We have a system in Parliament that you’re either in a job or you’re not in a job,” he said. “I think that would be a big help to the prime minister if he had that additional tool in his box.”

“It requires a bit of updating of the ministerial code and I think the public would welcome it,” he added.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has faced renewed pressure in recent days to suspend Raab after he sacked Conservative Chairman Nadhim Zahawi, who was found breaking ministerial code by not declaring an investigation into his tax affairs.

The FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, has already called for Raab’s suspension. Labour has accused Sunak of being too weak to move against his deputy who was one of his strongest supporters in the battle for the Tory leadership after the resignation of Boris Johnson.

But Conservative former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg defended Sunak’s decision to keep Raab in his job during the investigation, saying “We mustn’t be too snowflakey about it.”

Former Foreign Office permanent secretary Lord Simon McDonald previously said Sunak was a “tough boss” and that the allegations are plausible.

Rees-Mogg said people “need to be able to say this job has not been done well enough and needs to be done better,” adding that it’s difficult to judge whether one has crossed the line.


The Guardian on Nov. 11, 2022, cited a number of unnamed sources saying Raab has been “very rude and aggressive” towards civil servants and that he had created a “culture of fear” in the Ministry of Justice.

On Nov. 15, two formal complaints were made against Raab, who requested a probe into his own behaviour the next morning.

Raab said at the time that he would “cooperate fully” with the investigation and respect “whatever outcome” Sunak decides.

He also said he had “never tolerated bullying” during his tenures in eight ministerial jobs in four government departments.

Sunak appointed senior lawyer Adam Tolley KC to investigate the two complaints on Nov. 23, but six more former allegations have been added since.

According to The Guardian, all three permanent secretaries who worked with Raab, including former Foreign Office permanent secretary Lord Simon McDonald, Ministry of Justice permanent secretary Antonia Romeo, and former Brexit department permanent Philip Rycroft, gave evidence to Tolley as a witness.

The newspaper also reported that at least 24 civil servants, and perhaps more than 30, are involved in formal complaints. The Epoch Times could not independently verify the number.

Following the reports last week, Downing Street said the number of formal allegations against Raab remained at eight but could not rule out that each complaint includes multiple accusers.

Sunak Under Pressure

The prime minister’s position has also become precarious as he came under pressure to explain whether he knew of concerns over Raab before putting him back into the government.

Raab last served as the deputy prime minister and justice secretary in Boris Johnson’s government until September last year. Following Liz Truss’s brief term as the prime minister, Sunak brought Raab back to the Cabinet to his old job in October.

Epoch Times Photo
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, in London, on Jan. 25, 2023. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Downing Street has said Sunak was not aware of any formal complaints against Raab, but the prime minister’s knowledge came under increased scrutiny after it was reported his cabinet chief knew about Raab’s alleged behaviour.

According to The Times of London, which cited “an official closely involved in the complaint,” said a formal complaint was made against Raab in March 2022.

The report also said a number of officials had told Tolley that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case was told about the complaint.

Downing Street did not deny the allegation that Case knew about the complaint but said Sunak didn’t know about any formal complaint before appointing Raab.

Sunak also stood by Case. Asked on Friday if Sunak is confident he is getting solid advice from Case, Sunak’s spokesman said: “Yes. The prime minister has full confidence in Simon Case.”

Sunak was the second cabinet minister after former Health Secretary Sajid Javid to resign from Johnson’s government after the former prime minister admitted to keeping Chris Pincher in government despite sexual misconduct allegations against him after he previously denied knowledge.

Their resignations started a ministerial exodus that brought an end to Johnson’s premiership.

As Sunak was entering Downing Street, the prime minister vowed to lead with “integrity, professionalism, and accountability,” in an apparent attempt to rebuild confidence after two prime ministers left No. 10 in disgrace.

Following reports that Zahawi paid a penalty to settle a tax dispute, Sunak refused to sack him while the investigation was ongoing, but did so immediately after the six-day investigation found a “serious breach” of the Ministerial Code.

PA Media contributed to this report.

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