Wellbeing of diary secretary accused of selling sex online was MHCLG's top priority, says Raab

Minister reveals reaction from permanent secretary Melanie Dawes to “storm in a teacup” revelations

Photo: PA

By Richard Johnstone

03 May 2018

Housing minister Dominic Raab has said that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government civil servant who was revealed to be selling sex online was in a "vulnerable position" following the revelations and the department’s first concern was her welfare.

The department launched an investigation after it was revealed Raab's diary secretary has been accused of selling sex online. The civil servant is reported to have advertised on controversial website Seeking Arrangement, which describes itself as "the leading Sugar Daddy dating site".

She met twice with an undercover reporter for The Mirror posing as a wealthy businessman. She allegedly offered "full undisputed access" for £750 and boasted of her own knowledge of Raab's movements, saying: "I know everything about him. I know his every move. I know where he is today."

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live's Anna Foster yesterday, Raab said that both his and the civil service’s first concern was for the welfare of the diary secretary, added that the revelations were “a storm in a teacup”.

"To be honest, the first thing I thought was this is a 20-year-old young woman caught in a media storm, and my initial concern was just to make sure that someone in a vulnerable position like that was properly looked after by us as the department, and me as the minister for state. And that's something the civil service, and I and my officials, agreed on,” he said.

Raab said he had the confidence of MHCLG permanent secretary Melanie Dawes and other top officials at the department despite the Mirror reporting that staff at the department criticised him.

"Obviously you've got the Daily Mirror's reporting of it, and allegations, reports of what she said,” he said. “But all I know is that when I came back to the department the next morning, from my private office through to the permanent secretary, it was made very clear that that was nonsense.

“That not only were those comments not true, but that they were not the widespread opinion in the department.”

He said that he was “focused in the job” and did, “as a minister wanting to get things done”, make demands of the department.

"What you want to have is high standards and civil service and officials who are really keen to meet you halfway, give you robust advice, but also fulfil and execute the direction of travel that you're setting as a minister,” he added. “And I'm absolutely confident, and so is my permanent secretary, that that's what we've got. So to be honest with you, all of that tittle tattle, it's for the birds.”

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