Scope of Raab investigation must be “immediately” expanded, Rayner says

Katie Neame
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Angela Rayner has declared that the scope of an investigation into bullying allegations against Dominic Raab must be “immediately” expanded after Rishi Sunak asked for the inquiry to consider a third formal complaint.

The Prime Minister requested today that the investigation be expanded to include a third complaint relating to Raab’s behaviour during his time as Brexit Secretary. The deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary claimed on Thursday that he has “behaved professionally at all times”.

The deputy Labour leader said: “The Prime Minister’s desperate efforts to artificially restrict the scope of this so-called independent investigation into Dominic Raab are already crumbling beneath him. The drip-drip-drip of serious complaints emerging about his deputy shows he can no longer stem the tide.

“The scope of this investigation must immediately be expanded to enable proactive investigation of Dominic Raab’s behaviour during his time as a minister, including so-called expressions of concern, informal complaints and the concerning testimony of his own former permanent secretary.

“Rishi Sunak’s attempted stitch-up will fool no one. Only Labour has a plan to clean up politics through a genuinely independent integrity and ethics commission to restore standards in public life.”

The Guardian reported earlier this month that civil servants working at the Ministry of Justice were offered “respite or a route out” of the department when Raab was reappointed as Justice Secretary in October due to concerns some staff were still traumatised by his behaviour during his previous time in the role.

Multiple sources told the paper that Raab had created a “culture of fear” when he first held the role of Justice Secretary between September 2021 and September 2022. Raab was reportedly warned by permanent secretary Antonia Romeo on his return to the department that he must treat staff professionally and with respect.

The Guardian reported last week that Raab was warned on several occasions about his treatment of staff during his time as Foreign Secretary, resulting in the then permanent secretary at the department Simon McDonald informally reporting his concerns to the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team.

The government revealed on Wednesday that it had appointed lawyer Adam Tolley KC to “establish the specific facts” about two formal complaints that had been submitted about Raab’s conduct at the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Tolley has been appointed to lead the inquiry in the continuing absence of an official independent ethics adviser. The government has been without an ethics adviser since Lord Geidt resigned from the role in June.

Commenting ahead of Tolley’s appointment, Rayner demanded that Sunak explain why a new ethics adviser would not be in place to investigate Raab’s conduct, declaring: “The public will not wear another Tory whitewash.”

Addressing the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Raab – who was standing in for the Prime Minister during his time at the G20 summit in Bali – said recruitment for a new ethics adviser was “under way” and “taking place at pace”.

In his resignation letter, Geidt accused then Prime Minister Boris Johnson of placing him “in an impossible and odious position” by requesting his advice on the government’s intention to consider “measures which risk a deliberate and purposeful breach of the ministerial code”.

Geidt’s predecessor, Sir Alex Allan, also resigned back in 2020, after being overruled by Johnson over a report into allegations of bullying made against Priti Patel.

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