Former Tory president asks Dominic Raab to step aside during investigation

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A former cabinet minister and chairman of the Conservative Party has become the highest-ranking Conservative MP to call on Dominic Raab to step aside from his ministerial duties while he is investigated on multiple allegations of harassment and bullying behaviour.

Jake Berry, who was party chairman and minister without portfolio in Liz Truss’s cabinet, said it would be “very rare” for someone in a position similar to Raab’s in any other workplace to remain in his position amid such affirmations.

Downing Street refused on Friday to say whether Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, had been informed of the complaints about Raab before Rishi Sunak appointed him as justice secretary and deputy prime minister, putting even more scrutiny on what the prime minister knew. at that moment.

Sunak’s spokesman reiterated the formula with strong warnings that the prime minister “was not aware at the time of appointment of any formal complaints” about Raab, declining to say anything further given the ongoing investigation into the allegations.

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

Asked if he thought Sunak should suspend Raab now, Berry said: “When you have 24 charges pending against you, I read in the paper there are 24, it would be very strange if you had someone in any other workplace who didn’t was suspended. pending that investigation. Parliamentarians and ministers are not a special form of human being; I think they should be treated like everyone else in their workplace.”

Berry’s comments put further pressure on Sunak to act as the investigation ordered by Adam Tolley KC is considered unlikely to be concluded for at least a couple of weeks.

Sunak has faced criticism for failing to act sooner in sacking Nadhim Zahawi, the most recent chairman of the Conservative Party, after it emerged he received a tax penalty from HMRC when he was chancellor, and also faced scrutiny over whether whether or not he knew about Zahawi’s situation. him before naming him.

Downing Street on Friday declined to comment on a report in the Times that Case, the highest-ranking official in the government, had been personally briefed on a written complaint about Raab during his previous stint at the Justice Ministry months earlier. that Sunak gave him the job. again.

Sunak’s spokesperson confirmed that, generally speaking, a written statement made, for example, to a line manager, human resources representative or permanent secretary would be considered a formal complaint. However, he declined to say whether Case had been briefed on the concerns about Raab and, if so, whether he had passed this information on to Sunak before the prime minister appointed his government in October, citing Tolley’s ongoing work. .

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

At least 24 officials are involved in the allegations about Raab’s behaviour. He vehemently denies any wrongdoing.

In a separate allegation, anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller claimed Raab abused her and a BBC staff member after they appeared together on Radio 4’s Today show in 2016. Writing in The Independent, Miller said that when were in an elevator together after the broadcast, Raab “stared at me and said, ‘I can’t decide if you’re naive, have too much money, or just stupid.’”

As they left the building, Miller said, Raab reacted angrily to a young staffer who said there was no car fixed for him, yelling, “Go get me a fucking car.”

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

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