Civil service bosses pledge to learn from Raab inquiry 'shortcomings'

Report into bullying complaints "makes for difficult reading", Case and Chisholm tell staff
Raab report "makes for difficult reading", Case (above) and Chisholm said. Photo: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Civil service bosses have pledged to learn from “shortcomings” in the process of investigating complaints against ministers, following today’s publication of the report into Dominic Raab’s behaviour.

Cabinet secretary Simon Case and chief operating officer Alex Chisholm wrote to civil servants today following Adam Tolley KC’s report into complaints against bullying by the now former justice secretary – who resigned over its findings this morning.

In a letter accepting Raab’s resignation, Rishi Sunak said there had been “shortcomings in the historic process that have negatively affected everyone involved”.

Closely echoing the wording of the prime minister’s letter, Case and Chisholm said they would “learn from this how to better handle such matters in future”.

They said today's report "makes for difficult reading for everyone and we will all want to reflect on what it says and means".

“Senior leaders across the civil service are committed to ensuring that the civil service continues to be a brilliant place to work. An organisation where ministers are provided with first-rate support to deliver the government’s priorities and where hard working, dedicated civil servants are treated with respect, valued and able to give their best,” the internal memo, seen by CSW, read.

“As many of you will know for yourselves, the vast majority of relationships between ministers and civil servants are highly professional and productive, working jointly to deliver for the public across the country.

“While we will continue to reflect on what has happened, we will not let it distract us from our constant efforts to address the priorities of the government working in partnership, demonstrating professionalism and integrity, tackling the challenges our country faces, and delivering for citizens.”

Addressing reporters this afternoon, the PM’s spokesperson said the report – which found Raab had acted in an "intimidating" manner – had raised "wider issues"  that Sunak "thinks it's right to consider". 

"The report makes clear that on a number of occasions some of these instances weren’t raised immediately, they weren't raised in some circumstances for a number of years,” he said.

"There were some points individuals were not encouraged to raise them by line management, so I think the point he is making is that it does raise some wider issues that he thinks it's right to consider." 

Sunak said Raab had "rightly undertaken to resign if the report made any finding of bullying whatsoever".

The report concluded that while Raab did “not intend” to upset or humiliate staff, he had on several occasions acted in a way the investigator described as "intimidating", "insulting" and "abrasive".

It found the witnesses involved were "sincere and committed civil servants, with no ulterior agenda".

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