Former Tory chairman calls on Dominic Raab to step aside during inquiry

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A former cabinet minister and Conservative party chairman is the most senior Tory MP yet to call on Dominic Raab to step down from his ministerial role as he is investigated over multiple allegations of bullying and intimidation.

Jake Berry, who was party chairman and a minister without portfolio in Liz Truss’s cabinet, said it would be “very strange” if someone like Raab in any other workplace remained in his role amid such demands .

Downing Street on Friday refused to say whether Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, had been made aware of complaints about Raab before Rishi Sunak made him justice secretary and deputy prime minister, drawing further scrutiny over what was known to the prime minister at the time.

Sunak’s spokesman reiterated the big formula about a caveat that the prime minister was “not aware of any formal complaints at the time of the appointment” about Raab, refusing to say anything else in light of the ongoing investigation into the allegations.

Berry told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Week that it would be “a big help” for Sunak if he could directly suspend a minister under investigation, as happens in the private sector.

Asked if he believed Sunak Raab should now be suspended, Berry said: “When you have 24 allegations against you – I read in the paper there are 24 – it would be very strange if someone you in any other workplace that was not suspended. pending that investigation. MPs and Ministers are not special human beings – I think they should be treated like anyone else in their workplace.”

Berry’s comments put more pressure on Sunak to act, given the inquiry ordered by Adam Tolley KC is unlikely to conclude for another few weeks at the earliest.

Sunak has faced criticism for failing to act sooner and sack Nadhim Zahawi, the most recent Conservative party chairman, after it emerged he received a tax penalty from HMRC when he was chancellor , and he was also facing an investigation into whether he knew about Zahawi’s case or not. before it is conceived.

On Friday, Downing Street declined to comment on a report in The Times that Case, the government’s most senior civil servant, had been personally informed of a written complaint about Raab during her earlier stint at the justice ministry months before Sunak gave the job. him. again.

A Sunak spokesman confirmed that, in general terms, a written statement, for example, to a line manager, HR representative or permanent secretary would count as a formal complaint. However, he declined to say whether Case had been made aware of the concerns about Raab, and if so, whether he had passed this information on to Sunak before the prime minister named his government in October, citing Tolley’s ongoing work.

“We are not going to get into the appointment process or the advice that the Prime Minister gets, or doesn’t get,” the spokesman said, adding that Sunak had full confidence in Case.

At least 24 officers are involved in the complaints about Raab’s conduct. He vehemently denies any wrongdoing.

In another allegation, anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller claimed that Raab was abusive to her and a member of BBC staff after they appeared together on Radio 4’s Today program in 2016. Writing in the Independent, Miller said when they were together in an elevator after. on the broadcast, Raab “stared at me and said: ‘I can’t make up my mind if you’re naive, if you have too much money or if you’re stupid.'”

As they were leaving the building, Miller said, Raab angrily responded to a young staff member who said no car had been arranged for him, yelling: “Get me a sewing machine.”

A source close to Raab told the paper that Miller’s claims were “baseless and malicious”.

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