Britain's Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab leaves after a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on April 18, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
LONDON – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has received an independent report into allegations of bullying against Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and is considering his response, Sunak's spokesperson said on Thursday.
The allegations against his ally could result in the third departure of a senior government minister over their personal conduct since Sunak entered Downing Street in October and would undermine his efforts to revive his Conservative Party's polling fortunes ahead of a national election expected next year.
Another of Sunak's senior ministers, Gavin Williamson, was forced to resign in November after bullying allegations, and the prime minister sacked Conservative Party chair Nadhim Zahawi in January after he was found to have broken the ministerial code over his openness about his tax affairs
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The review was requested by Raab in November following formal complaints about his behaviour by government officials, and lawyer Adam Tolley was appointed by Sunak to lead an independent investigation.
Raab has promised to resign if the allegations are upheld.
"The prime minister has received the report from Adam Tolley, the independent investigator. He received the findings this morning. He is considering those findings," Sunak's spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said Sunak wished to publish his response as soon as possible, but did not say if that would be on Thursday.
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Raab, who is also justice minister, has said he was confident he had behaved professionally throughout, while Sunak initially defended his deputy when the reports surfaced, saying he did not recognize allegations that Raab had bullied staff.
On becoming prime minister last year, Sunak promised to lead a government of "integrity, professionalism, and accountability" following the scandal-ridden tenure of Boris Johnson and the chaotic economic policies that brought down Liz Truss after less than two months.
The months-long investigation into Raab's behaviour has heard evidence from multiple government officials about complaints of bullying at three different departments.
The investigation was asked to establish the facts of the allegations, but not to form a conclusion about whether Raab was guilty of bullying.
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The ultimate arbiter will be the prime minister, who will decide whether Raab has broken the ministerial code, which states ministers should treat officials with respect.
Another of Sunak's senior ministers, Gavin Williamson, was forced to resign in November after bullying allegations, and the prime minister sacked Conservative Party chair Nadhim Zahawi in January after he was found to have broken the ministerial code over his openness about his tax affairs.
Sunak is facing his own investigation by parliament's standards watchdog into his behaviour over whether he properly declared his wife's shareholding in a childcare company which stands to benefit from new government policy.