What and when did Sunak know about Dominique Raab’s bullying allegations?

Dominic Raab’s position as deputy prime minister and justice secretary is at risk after allegations of bullying and intimidation from at least 24 officials. The mood music in Westminster is ominous, with Conservative MPs such as perennial rebel Jake Berry now publicly briefing against his party’s number two. There are questions about the nature of the deputy prime minister’s conduct and, crucially, what Rishi Sunak knew about the potential allegations when he restored Raab to government in October.

The allegations, which the RAB strongly denies, relate to his previous conduct during his time as justice secretary and foreign secretary under Boris Johnson and Brexit secretary under Theresa May.

So far, the prime minister’s line has been consistent: He did not know about the “formal” allegations against Raab when he was appointed in October.

It was a line repeated to reporters after Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday, with the Prime Minister’s spokesman insisting that the “normal process was followed” with Raab’s appointment. “We are not aware of any formal complaint”, he added.

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Similarly, the Prime Minister insisted that he acted decisively in appointing a senior lawyer, Adam Tolley Casey, to investigate the allegations after learning of the “formal complaint”. It’s a defense that has come under some pressure recently.

The nature and specificity of the denial raises the possibility that the Prime Minister was “informally” aware of potential transgressions committed by one of his closest allies.

Indeed, several Conservative colleagues have shared stories of “powerful” exchanges with the deputy prime minister during his storied career in government.

For example, former Wales Secretary Robert Buckland has confirmed that he and Raab had “a disagreement” when they were both in cabinet, with Raab attempting to sack Buckland as Welsh Secretary last year over a disagreement over bills. rights policy.

As Buckland explained LBC Monday: “Dominic and I have a disagreement over his bill of rights, apparently he’s not going to agree with the article I wrote. telegraph. I was talking about the government coming in – this is the post-Boris Johnson government – and felt it was entirely appropriate to do that.”

“There is strong disagreement in politics. I’m old enough and ugly enough to hold my own, and Dominic is known for his tenacity. There was a disagreement, but we are moving forward.”

Sky News It is also understood that the Prime Minister was aware of the argument, which cannot necessarily be characterized as bullying.

Pressure has also increased in recent days The Times The report said that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the UK’s top civil servant, was personally briefed on a written complaint about Raab’s conduct when he was Justice Secretary last spring under Boris Johnson. This is despite Number 10 saying they were “not aware of any formal complaints” when Sunak appointed her deputy prime minister in October.

Reports on whether he advised the prime minister not to appoint the RAB also put fresh pressure on the case.

According to The Times, officials told Adam Tolley Casey – who is investigating the claims – that a complaint was made to the Ministry of Justice Permanent Secretary Antonia Romeo (chief civil servant in the Department of Justice), who then escalated it to the Cabinet Secretary. An official said The times: “Nobody said it wasn’t a formal complaint.”

Asked whether No 10 agreed that any complaint to the permanent secretary was indeed a formal complaint, a No 10 spokesman reiterated: “The Prime Minister was not aware of the appointment of a formal complaint”. There was no specific denial of the report.

With Downing Street insisting it is awaiting the completion of Tolley’s report before deciding Raab’s fate, we may have to wait some time before the semantic arguments of the debate are resolved. In fact, the report said it was “weeks” away.

What Sunak knew and so on depends on some important, secondary questions. These include:

  • Did Simon Case inform Sunak of any allegations during Raab’s tenure as Justice Secretary under Johnson?
  • Does this amount to a formal complaint?
  • Nevertheless, was Sunak “informally” aware of the allegations made about RAB’s alleged conduct?
  • And are such “informal” complaints relevant – that is, what was their nature and could Sunac be expected to pursue them?

Politics here is also very complicated. Rab Rishi is a staunch supporter of Sunak, and in his role as justice secretary he could be key in mapping the UK’s future relationship with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and government policy on the “little boat”. As he proved under Sunak and Johnson, Raab is a minister who is consistently willing to defend his prime minister on the airwaves. And his firm loyalty to Sunak was on display in the summer leadership contest, even when it was clear that Truss was the outright favorite for the Conservative crown.

So it will be difficult to replace the deputy prime minister because of RAB’s credentials as an experienced minister and his loyalty to Sunak.