‘Tough boss’ Raab should apologise for his behaviour, says ex-Foreign Office chief


Rishi Sunak must stand up for the civil service after Dominic Raab’s resignation over bullying complaints from his staff, a former Foreign Office chief has said.

Mr Raab quit his roles in government last week after two complaints were upheld against him for acting in an “intimidating way” and being “unreasonably and persistently aggressive” in meetings.

But the former deputy prime minister left swinging, accusing some civil servants of being “activists” with a “passive aggressive” agenda against him.

Labour targets Sunak in new attack ad – politics latest

Dominic Raab arrives at the BBC studios, in London, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. Raab has resigned

Speaking to Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby, Sir Simon McDonald – who was Mr Raab’s permanent secretary during his time at the Foreign Office – said it was possible the civil service could end up unfairly vilified if the prime minister did not defend it from the claims.

Sir Simon said the prime minister “is also the minister for the civil service”, adding: “He knows the civil service, he is surrounded by civil servants in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office, he knows their ethos, he knows their quality.

“So I hope that the prime minister and other ministers do publicly recognise that.”

More on Dominic Raab

Sir Simon said the service couldn’t speak out due to their roles “so a debate can rage about them without any serving civil service participation”.

He added: “I think that is an unfair debate, and another reason for me as a retired civil servant, to speak out.

“Because I worked for the civil service for 38 years. The characterisation given by Mr Raab I think is flat wrong.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Trust ‘broken’ with civil service

In the exclusive interview, Sir Simon also said Mr Raab should apologise for his behaviour.

He said ministers were “frustrated when action doesn’t happen as quickly as they want” and were “more interested in that action than possible reasons for the delay”.

But he added: “There can be a conversation around that, that the minister can call in and have a perfectly civil conversation with a senior official, with a permanent secretary, about why things are not happening, to dig down into that. That is completely legitimate.

“You do not need to intimidate or humiliate or threaten staff in order to shift the system.”

The former permanent secretary repeated previous claims that he had spoken to Mr Raab about his conduct after junior civil servants raised it with him – though he did not think it crossed the threshold of bullying at that time.

“[Mr Raab] was, as he describes, inquisitorial, fastidious, quite sceptical, he was a tough boss,” said Sir Simon.

“[I talked] to him about his impact, the impact of his behaviour on the people around him, and I did that, they were not easy conversations.

“But I wanted him to see how he was treating the people around him was affecting the outcomes, was affecting his productivity, his delivery, and he resisted that, and he consistently resisted that.”

Read more:
Key findings from Raab report
The karate black belt MP who briefly ran the country

He said he was not surprised that Mr Raab “doesn’t think he did anything wrong”, adding: “He thinks that a certain management style is not only acceptable, but, in his words, professional. I think that is a fundamental misunderstanding.”

But Sir Simon was “dismayed” by the lack of a fulsome apology.

He added: “I hope he will reflect, I mean, there’s still time. Mr Raab may still want a political career. I think if he’s to come back, he needs to reflect.”

Products You May Like