In yet another blow for Indian-origin United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government, UK Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Dominic Raab resigned today after an independent investigation into complaints of bullying.
Announcing his resignation on Twitter, Raab wrote, "I called for the inquiry and undertook to resign, if it made any finding of bullying whatsoever. I believe it is important to keep my word".
The investigation into the former Deputy PM was led by Adam Tolley KC, a leading employment barrister, and found Raab had on a number of occasions “gone further” than appropriate in delivering critical feedback and been insulting about work done by Ministry of Justice officials.
In his resignation letter, Raab claimed that the report into his conduct had upheld two claims against him and both are “flawed”.
"Whilst I feel duty bound to accept the outcome of the inquiry, it dismissed all but two of the claims levelled against me. I also believe that its two adverse findings are flawed and set a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government," his statement read.
”It will encourage spurious complaints against ministers, and have a chilling effect on those driving change on behalf of your government – and ultimately the British people," he added.
Raab had requested the investigation into two formal complaints about his behaviour from when he was foreign minister and justice minister. A month later it was widened to include five further formal complaints.
In a letter responding to Raab’s resignation, Sunak wrote that Raab had “rightly undertaken to resign if the report made any finding of bullying” and had “kept your (Raab’s) word”.
”But it is clear that there have been shortcomings in the historic process that have negatively affected everyone involved. We should learn from this how to better handle such matters in future,” the letter read.
Sunak had faced criticism for allowing Raab to remain in the Cabinet while the inquiry was ongoing. The former Deputy PM becomes the second member of Sunak’s cabinet forced to resign amid bullying allegations after Gavin Williamson’s downfall last year.
Indian-origin MP facing bullying allegations as well
Earlier in the week, reports of bullying allegations emerged against former Cabinet minister and British-Indian Tory MP Alok Sharma.
Sharma was difficult, unpredictable and could quickly lose his temper, according to four senior officials who worked with him between 2020 and 2022. Most of the allegations stem from when he led the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the officials said, although some of the behavior continued after he started serving as president of United Nations climate talks.
Sharma would often express his dissatisfaction by insulting staff's work and using profanity, without offering guidance on how to improve its quality, the officials said.
Civil servants raised concerns about Sharma's behavior with their bosses on at least four occasions in 2020, although they stopped short of filing official complaints, according to two of the officials.
In response to the allegations, Sharma issued a statement: "I have never been made aware of any 'informal complaints' or otherwise from staff. The Cabinet Office has confirmed that there are no records of any informal or formal complaints across government about me. I refute strongly these allegations."
An official spokesperson said the government has no record of any complaints.
The Conservative government has faced criticism that it has tolerated an abusive work culture during its 13 years in power. Several senior Tory ministers have been forced to resign or come under investigation over allegations of unprofessional behavior in the workplace and Sunak has vowed to uphold "integrity, professionalism and accountability" in government.