Dominic Raab has confirmed he will resign from the government if an ongoing investigation into his conduct concludes he had bullied public servants, as a number of officials have alleged.
“If a charge of bullying is upheld, I will resign,” the justice minister and deputy prime minister told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday. Raab has denied any bullying or other mistreatment of staff.
He faces claims from at least 24 civil servants, linked not only to the Ministry of Justice, but also to the Foreign Office and Brexit, his former ministerial posts.
Earlier this month, Conservative MP and former party chairman Jake Berry said Raab should temporarily step down from government pending a report by Adam Tolley QC, the senior employment lawyer who assigned Rishi Sunak to look into the complaints.
Raab said that was not the right thing to do. He said: “First of all, this is ultimately for the Prime Minister to decide. But if by making complaints you can knock out a cabinet minister or a senior official, I’m not sure that’s right. We believe in innocent until proven guilty in this country.”
In a later interview on BBC1’s Sunday with the Laura Kuenssberg programme, asked if he had thought about his relationships with staff, Raab said: “Look, in terms of the way it works, short of any of the inappropriate cases you mention, of course we learn lessons as we go.
“This is part of the relationship with civil servants. But I’m sure I behaved professionally throughout. I think the lion’s share of the time, the vast majority of cases and the time we spend together, civil servants and ministers work together very effectively.”
Also speaking on the Kuenssberg show, Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, said he believed officials did not “have the confidence” to challenge bullying or harassment by senior officials.
Asked about Raab’s interview, Penman said: “The picture he paints is that all is well in the public administration and the relationship between ministers and civil servants is fine. This is not the image that civil servants talk about, this is not their experience.
“One in six say they have experienced, or witnessed, bullying or harassment in the last 12 months alone across 20 government departments. They don’t have the confidence to challenge these behaviors.”