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Rishi Sunak accused of ‘dither and delay’ in deciding Dominic Raab’s fate

Rishi Sunak accused of ‘dither and delay’ in deciding Dominic Raab’s fate

Rishi Sunak is said to want a ‘swift conclusion’ to the inquiry into claims of bullying against his deputy
Rishi Sunak wants to deliver a “swift conclusion” to the inquiry into claims of bullying against Dominic Raab, a Cabinet minister said on Friday - raising expectations that it will come within hours.

Mr Sunak received the report, from Adam Tolley KC, into the allegations on Thursday morning. Mr Raab has read the report and maintains he has not mistreated colleagues or broken the ministerial code, the PA news agency was told.

A source close to Mr Raab said the Prime Minister has not asked him to resign and denied the pair had held talks over his future.

On Friday morning, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the probe was an “extensive piece of work” and rejected accusations that the Prime Minister was dithering over acting on it.

He stressed that Mr Sunak saw “due process” as important and so was not rushing to a decision as he wanted to be “fair” to Mr Raab and the civil servants who had made complaints against him.

Mr Harper told Times Radio: “He will want to reach a swift conclusion.

“But he will want to do that properly, after properly considering what will no doubt be a lengthy report at the end of a five-month long investigation.”

He added: “I do know that the inquiry took five months, so it seems to me that it is a very extensive piece of work.

“It seems quite reasonable that the Prime Minister would want to read the report in full himself, go through all of the detail, before he reaches a conclusion.

“It’s only by doing so that he would actually be being fair both to Dominic Raab but also importantly to the people who made serious complaints.”

He later declined on Sky News to say that the premier’s verdict would definitely come on Friday.

No 10 had promised the report and the Prime Minister’s verdict on the eight formal allegations would be published “swiftly”.

But after Mr Sunak spent the day with the report it emerged no announcement would be made before Friday.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “While the Prime Minister dithers and delays, trying to summon up the guts to sack his own deputy, working people are battling the worst cost-of-living crisis for a generation – food bills and mortgage rates are rising, wages are stagnating, and too many of us are waiting months and even years for health treatment.

“While the Tories are yet again mired in chaos, Labour is focused on cutting the cost of living, cutting crime and cutting waiting lists with our long-term plan to give Britain its future back.”

Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA union that represents senior civil servants, including complainants who have levelled allegations against Mr Raab, called the delay a “farce”.

“Imagine being a civil servant who has been brave enough to raise a complaint against the Deputy Prime Minister, sitting in a government department and you’re watching this farce play out live on television, not knowing what your fate is going to be about the complaints you have raised,” Mr Penman told PA.

“No-one knows what is going to happen now, there are no rules associated with any investigation, there are no rights for anyone who raises a complaint.”

The reasons behind the delay were unclear, but a No 10 source said Mr Sunak was “taking time to go through the report thoroughly”.

Mr Sunak was maintaining “full confidence” in his ally, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said after receiving Mr Tolley’s findings.

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “People will be fed up with this dither and delay from Rishi Sunak.

“It feels like almost every week there is an issue with sleaze and scandal where Rishi Sunak is either implicated himself or too weak to get to grips with it.

“People are crying out for a Government that will just get on with tackling the issues that matter, not focused on saving their own skin.”

The eight complaints against Mr Raab centre on his behaviour as foreign secretary, Brexit secretary and during his first stint as justice secretary.

While there was no formal role for Mr Sunak’s ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus in the investigation, the Prime Minister could consult him before delivering his verdict on Mr Raab – although such conversations are usually kept private.

Sir Laurie had not been appointed as the independent adviser on ministers’ interests when the investigation into Mr Raab was launched.

Mr Sunak is the ultimate arbiter on issues around ministerial conduct and the final decision on his deputy Mr Raab will rest with him.

Mr Raab remained at work on Thursday, responding to Crown Prosecution Service statistics on rape cases.

He issued a tweet and statement on the issue in his role as Justice Secretary.

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