Dominic Raab’s fate is in the hands of Rishi Sunak after a long-awaited investigation into bullying claims by his deputy concluded.
A report on the findings, which is understood to be “very lengthy”, was handed to Number 10 on Thursday morning, with the prime minister said to be “carefully considering” its conclusions.
Senior lawyer Adam Tolley KC has been looking into multiple allegations of bullying by the deputy prime minister, justice secretary and loyal ally of the PM since November last year.
Under ministerial rules, Mr Sunak, as prime minister, has to decide whether the conclusions of the report means Mr Raab did bully staff and if he did then what the consequences will be.
But on Thursday afternoon, Sky News was told “no further action” would take place that day regarding Mr Raab’s future.
Mr Raab told Sky News in February he would resign if the inquiry found he had bullied staff.
His future now hangs in the balance, with the report not made public yet and Downing Street insisting a resolution will be sought “as swiftly as possible”.
Throughout the investigation, Mr Raab has insisted he “behaved professionally at all times” and pointed out he initiated the inquiry into himself when the accusations were made.
Allies of Mr Raab said “he’ll fight to the death”, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Sky News also understands Mr Raab and Mr Sunak did not speak on Thursday – and Mr Raab has seen the report and maintains he has behaved professionally at all times.
The investigation was looking into whether Mr Raab had bullied civil servants during his time as both foreign secretary from 2019 to 2021, and then justice secretary from 2021 to 2022 under Boris Johnson’s premiership.
Labour and the Lib Dems accused Mr Sunak of “dither and delay” over what they perceive as his inaction.
Shadow cabinet member Emily Thornberry said: “I just think whilst he dithers and delays and summons up the courage to sack his deputy, the rest of the country is dealing with the cost of living crisis, which is worse than it has been in a generation.
“Wages aren’t keeping up with prices, people can’t afford food and heating and their housing and the Conservative Party is in chaos again, not dealing with the priorities of the people who elected them.
“I think, quite frankly, the prime minister should read the report. If the man’s a bully he should go.
“We just need to move on with this and move back to what’s important for the public.”
She added every time “one of these Conservatives get into trouble they don’t just undermine the reputation of Conservatives, they undermine the reputation of all members of parliament”.
What punishment could Mr Raab receive?
Changes to the ministerial code mean Mr Sunak can impose sanctions on his deputy that do not involve him being sacked, if he is found to have bullied staff.
This could include Mr Raab having to make a public apology, “remedial action” such as attending an anger management course or the removal of his ministerial salary for a period of time.
Mr Tolley is understood to have spoken to dozens of witnesses, including top civil servants and Mr Johnson, following claims Mr Raab created a “culture of fear” at the Ministry of Justice, and allegations that he was “very rude and aggressive”.
Colleagues were allegedly “scared” to go into his office when he was foreign secretary, former permanent secretary Lord McDonald has said.
However, a Tory MP who formerly worked as a parliamentary private secretary to Mr Raab said his ex-boss was always “courteous and professional” with his staff.
Speaking after the report was handed to Downing Street, Gareth Johnson told Sky News he can “only go by what I witnessed”, but added: “Not once did I ever witness him behaving in a manner that could be described as bullying.”