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Dominic Raab hits out at ‘activist civil servants’ after resignation

  • By Becky Morton & Chris Mason
  • BBC Politics

Video caption,

‘Are you a nightmare to work for?’ Raab requested by BBC

Former Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has accused “activist civil servants” of making an attempt to dam the work of presidency, after his dramatic resignation over bullying claims.

An inquiry discovered he was “intimidating” and “aggressive” in direction of officers.

Mr Raab informed the BBC he was sorry if he upset anybody however “that’s not bullying”.

He stated there was a danger “a very small minority” of officers “with a passive aggressive culture” have been making an attempt to dam reforms they didn’t like.

In his first interview since stepping down, Mr Raab informed the BBC the one complaints upheld towards him have been by “a handful of very senior officials”, out of tons of of civil servants he had handled.

Asked if the blunt reality was that he was a nightmare to work for, the previous justice secretary stated: “Well actually, almost all of the complaints against me were dismissed.”

He stated a “very small minority of very activist civil servants” have been successfully making an attempt to dam reforms they didn’t like, associated to areas together with Brexit, prisoner parole and human rights.

“That’s not on. That’s not democratic,” the MP for Esher and Walton added.

“If you’ve got particularly activist civil servants, who either because they’re over-unionised or just don’t agree with what we’re trying to pursue… If actually, they block reforms or changes through a rather passive aggressive approach, we can’t deliver for the British people,” he stated.

Asked if there have been folks standing in the best way of an elected authorities, Mr Raab stated: “I was told that by one cabinet secretary, and by one director of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office.”

Video caption,

Watch Raab’s first interview since quitting over bullying

However, the FDA union, which represents civil servants, accused Mr Raab of peddling “dangerous conspiracy theories that undermine the impartiality and integrity of the civil service” to “deflect from an independent investigation’s criticism of his conduct”.

The head of the union, Dave Penman, stated the prime minister had an obligation to defend the impartiality of the civil service and “stop giving his former ally a free hand”.

One former senior civil servant who labored carefully with Mr Raab informed BBC Newsnight he “has often publicly praised the work of his civil servants” and his newest feedback gave the impression to be “at odds” with this.

Another stated: “In my expertise, most civil servants do their jobs as a result of they wish to ship for the general public.

“They do that via a long-standing and usually very efficient relationship with the democratically elected ministers.

“I think you’d struggle to find a similar example of the disfunction we’ve heard about in Tolley’s report so it’s perhaps fair to draw the conclusion that there is one common thread to this unique situation and that’s Raab.”

The inquiry by senior lawyer Adam Tolley KC appeared at eight formal complaints about Mr Raab’s behaviour throughout his earlier stints as justice secretary, overseas secretary and Brexit secretary.

His report concluded Mr Raab’s conduct concerned “an abuse or misuse of power”, and that he “acted in a manner which was intimidating” and “persistently aggressive” in direction of officers.

Mr Raab, an in depth ally of the prime minister, had pledged to resign if the investigation made any discovering of bullying towards him.

In his resignation letter, he stated he accepted the inquiry’s findings however described them as “flawed”.

Asked in his BBC interview if he wished to apologise, Mr Raab stated: “If somebody had damage emotions, due to one thing I did, in fact, I would like an empowered crew.

“The overwhelming majority of the civil servants who labored for me have been sensible, implausible and really relished the power, the problem, the drive that I consider I introduced.

“But of course, I don’t want to upset anyone and I made clear that I’m sorry for that. But that’s not bullying, and we can’t deliver for the British people if the bar is that low.”

He added: “If it’s not intentional, if it’s not personalised, if actually it is right, but there are some subjective hurt feelings by some, I’m afraid that makes it very difficult to deliver.”

Mr Raab stated the findings of the inquiry set “a very dangerous precedent”.

“If the bar, the threshold for bullying is lowered that low, it’s almost impossible for ministers to deliver for the British people and I think it’ll have a chilling effect on effective government, and the British people will pay a price,” he stated.

He added that quite a lot of ministers have been now “very fearful that the direct challenge that they bring fairly, squarely in government, may leave them at risk of the same treatment that I’ve had”.

Asked if he would struggle the subsequent normal election as a Conservative candidate in Esher and Walton, the place he has slim majority of lower than 3,000 votes, Mr Raab stated he wished to “let the dust settle” however finally it was a choice for his native constituency affiliation.

Conservative peer Lord Marland stated Mr Raab’s resignation was “almost a conspiracy by the civil service”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight, he stated it was “a very black day for all employers” as a result of a “dangerous precedent has been set” [on the issue of workplace bullying] that will “send shudders through all employers in the country”.

However, Lord Vaizey informed the identical programme: “I don’t believe for a minute… that any civil servant would actively seek to undermine what you’re doing.”

He stated there was a “clash of cultures” between usually impatient ministers and a civil service who do issues “properly” which ends up in “tension”.

Hannah White, director of the Institute for Government assume tank, stated “no civil servant would feel encouraged to speak out in future” after the responses of Mr Sunak and Mr Raab to the Tolley report.

She stated Mr Sunak had missed a possibility to strengthen requirements and “the mutual suspicion which has been growing between ministers and civil servants remains and nothing has been done to reduce the risk of future problems.”

Former cupboard minister Jacob Rees-Mogg stated Mr Raab shouldn’t have resigned and believes the PM ought to have refused to simply accept his deputy’s departure.

“I think it is very dangerous that we are setting the bar so low for this,” Mr Rees-Mogg informed Channel 4.

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