Dominic Raab’s lack of contrition makes him seem more guilty — lawyer

Dominic Raab speaks after resigning from the cabinet

Dominic Raab resigned as Deputy Prime Minister following an investigation conducted by independent barrister Adam Tolley KC into complaints of bullying which upheld two allegations against him. The report, which investigated complaints involving 24 people, found that his conduct involved an “abuse or misuse of power” and that he acted in an “intimidating” manner towards officials and staff. In his resignation letter, the former Justice Secretary said he felt “duty bound” to accept the findings but that he believed they were “flawed and set a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government”.

While many have criticised the 49-year-old’s response to the investigation, others have come to his support.

In remarks similar to those made by the former deputy leader, Conservative peer Lord Marland told BBC Newsnight that it was “almost a conspiracy by the civil service”.

He described it as a “very black day for all employers” because a “dangerous precedent” has now been set on workplace bullying that will “send shudders through all employers in the country”.

In the letter, Mr Raab apologised for any “unintended stress of offence” caused but said, “two adverse findings are flawed and set a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government”.

But Kevin Poulter, an employment partner at national law firm Freeths, said this response was “surprising” in light of the report, along with the fact that the complainants were found to be acting in “good faith”.

He told “Given the findings of fact made in the report, including the use of physical gestures, alongside the statement that the complainants were acting in good faith and held genuine beliefs about the way they were treated, it is surprising that in his resignation letter, Mr Raab took the opportunity to attack those who had criticised him.

“Rather than showing contrition, his defiance will by some be seen as a further example of the complaints already made against him.”

Much of the criticism of the report which is mostly from Mr Raab’s supporters, has been that the definition of bullying has been set so low that it impacts a company’s ability to effectively manage its staff and set standards of performance.

However, experts stressed that the report does not set a legal precedent for what bullying is or will be regarded as in the future.

Plus, Mr Poulter pointed out that it is “very rare” for an employee to make a complaint and raise a grievance for no reason with managing workplace relationships falling under a manager’s responsibility.

Steven Davies, head of employment law at MSB Solicitors with almost 15 years experience, said that the accusations found against Mr Raab would fit the definition of what he and “most ordinary people” would deem as bullying.

Mr Davies said: “His resignation would seem to imply that he is satisfied that the report did make findings of bullying. Either that, or he was forced to resign from the very top of the Tory Party.”

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It was unlikely that Mr Raab would have launched accusations at the report had it been in his favour, Mr Davies said, adding: “What would set a far more dangerous precedent is if investigations such as these were prevented from taking place by the Government.

“This would give ministers carte blanche to act in any manner they choose with impunity. That wouldn’t be a good thing for society.”

In the wake of the news, an anti-bullying contract, worth £140,000 has been handed to Culture Shift as part of an anti-bullying drive in the civil service.

It is not Mr Raab alone who has been accused of bullying as former home secretary Priti Patel, ex-minister of state Gavin Williamson and former cabinet minister Alok Sharma have all faced accusations, too.

However, Raab supporter and prominent Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed the accusasions, describing the debacle as a “veritable blizzard of snowflakes”.

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