Sunday, May 5

PM should rise up for civil service after Dominic Raab’s assaults, says ex-Foreign Office chief

Rishi Sunak should rise up for the civil service after Dominic Raab’s resignation over bullying complaints from his employees, a former Foreign Office chief has stated.

Mr Raab stop his roles in authorities final week after two complaints had been upheld in opposition to him for performing in an “intimidating way” and being “unreasonably and persistently aggressive” in conferences.

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

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Speaking to Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby, Sir Simon McDonald – who was Mr Raab’s everlasting secretary throughout his time on the Foreign Office – stated it was potential the civil service may find yourself unfairly vilified if the prime minister didn’t defend it from the claims.

Sir Simon stated the prime minister “is also the minister for the civil service”, including: “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 different ministers do publicly recognise that.”

Sir Simon stated the service could not converse out resulting from their roles “so a debate can rage about them without any serving civil service participation”.

He added: “I believe that’s an unfair debate, and another excuse for me as a retired civil servant, to talk out.

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

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‘Did you want working with Raab?’

In the interview, Sir Simon additionally stated Mr Raab ought to apologise for his behaviour.

He stated ministers had been “frustrated when action doesn’t happen as quickly as they want” and had been “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 don’t have to intimidate or humiliate or threaten employees with the intention 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, fairly sceptical, he was a troublesome boss,” said Sir Simon.

“[I talked] to him about his affect, the affect of his behaviour on the individuals round him, and I did that, they weren’t simple 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.”

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He stated he was not stunned that Mr Raab “doesn’t think he did anything wrong”, including: “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 shortage 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.”

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