British justice minister and Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab (pictured) has stepped down after what the Law Society Gazette of England and Wales described as “a damning report” into allegations of bullying.
Raab was appointed last October, combining the job with his role as deputy prime minister, but stood down today (21 April) in response to the findings of an investigation led by Adam Tolley KC.
In a statement, Raab said that he was “duty bound” to accept the outcome of the inquiry, pointing out that all but two of the claims against him were not upheld.
The report found that Raab’s personal “abrasive” style was unintentionally intimidating or insulting to individuals working at the Ministry of Justice.
Tolley found that, on a number of occasions in meetings with policy officials, Raab “acted in a manner that was intimidating”, going further than necessary or appropriate to deliver feedback, and “insulting” through unconstructive critical comments about the quality of work.
The barrister also found that there was “significant scope for misunderstanding” in Raab’s physical gestures, but he was not concerned that they were threatening, and there was no question that the minister had ever lost control.
Raab stated that the two adverse findings against him were “flawed, and set a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government”.
He warned that this would encourage “spurious complaints” against ministers, and have a “chilling effect”.
Raab said: “Ministers must be able to exercise direct oversight with respect to senior officials over critical negotiations conducted on behalf of the British people, otherwise the democratic and constitutional principle of ministerial responsibility will be lost.
“Ministers must be able to give direct critical feedback on briefings and submissions to senior officials, in order to set the standards and drive the reform the public expect of us.
“Of course, this must be done within reasonable bounds. 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.
“I am genuinely sorry for any unintended stress or offence that any officials felt, as a result of the pace, standards and challenge that I brought to the Ministry of Justice. That is, however, what the public expect of ministers working on their behalf.,” he concluded.
His departure means that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must choose the ninth lord chancellor in seven years (Raab filled the position twice).
The Gazette says that Raab had little time to stamp his mark on the justice brief, but did introduce a Victims and Prisoners Bill in March and has continued to push for a UK Bill of Rights.