UK deputy prime minister Dominic Raab resigns after bullying inquiry

Conservative MP says inquiry into complaints about behaviour ‘dismissed all but two’ of claims levelled against him

Dominic Raab resigned as the UK’s deputy prime minister on Friday after an independent report into bullying claims against him upheld two of the eight formal complaints.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak accepted Mr Raab’s resignation with “great sadness”, a Downing Street statement said.

Mr Raab said he wanted to “keep his word” to step down if the report commissioned by Mr Sunak found evidence of any bullying of civil servants.

Mr Sunak, who received the report by employment lawyer Adam Tolley on Thursday, had agonised over whether his deputy could survive. The prime minister’s allies insisted Mr Raab was not forced out by Number 10.


The resignation is a serious blow to Mr Sunak, calling into question his judgment. Nadhim Zahawi and Sir Gavin Williamson had previously been forced out of the premier’s top team over their conduct.

Oliver Dowden, the Cabinet Office minister and Sunak loyalist, was appointed to replace Mr Raab as deputy prime minister in a limited cabinet reshuffle. Alex Chalk, the minister for defence procurement and a barrister, will take on Mr Raab’s role of justice secretary.

Despite apologising for any distress he had caused, Mr Raab struck a defiant note in his resignation letter, saying the Tolley inquiry would undermine ministers’ ability to “exercise direct oversight” of civil servants.

“In setting the threshold for bullying so low, this inquiry has set a dangerous precedent,” he wrote. “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.”

Mr .Tolley, who spent five months investigating eight formal complaints against Mr Raab involving allegations by more than 20 officials at three Whitehall departments, upheld two serious claims.

He said that while he was foreign secretary, Mr Raab had shown “unreasonably and persistently aggressive conduct” at a work meeting.

Mr Tolley added that in a separate incident at the Foreign Office, Mr Raab had engaged in “a form of intimidating behaviour” by suggesting an official had breached the civil service code.

The lawyer did not endorse claims of bullying by Mr Raab made by officials at the Ministry of Justice or the Brexit department, which has now been wound up.

However, he did find evidence of “abrasive” behaviour by Mr Raab as justice secretary — for example by calling work by officials “useless” or “woeful”.

Although some justice ministry officials had suffered stress and anxiety, with one taking stress-related leave, Mr Tolley said there was not enough evidence to blame Mr Raab directly.

Mr Raab has been one of Mr Sunak’s closest allies in politics, having supported him during his first Conservative party leadership bid in the summer, when he lost to Liz Truss.

On Friday, Mr Raab said he remained supportive of Mr Sunak and his government, describing him as a “great prime minister in very challenging times”.

In his resignation letter, Mr Raab complained about “a number of improprieties” during the course of the Tolley inquiry. “They include the systematic leaking of skewed and fabricated claims to the media in breach of the rules of the inquiry and the civil service code of conduct,” he said.

He apologised for any unintended stress or offence caused by what he described as the “pace, standards and challenge” he brought as a minister.

“Whilst I feel duty-bound to accept the outcome of the inquiry, it dismissed all but two of the claims levelled against me. I also believe that its two adverse findings are flawed and set a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government,” he wrote.

“Mr Tolley concluded that I had not once, in four and a half years, sworn or shouted at anyone, let alone thrown anything or otherwise physically intimidated anyone, nor intentionally sought to belittle anyone,” Mr Raab wrote. - Financial Times Service