Sir David Davis writes for the Daily Mail on Adam Tolley KC’s report on Dominic Raab


As published in the Daily Mail

For the past year, I have watched with astonishment the coordinated attacks on Dominic Raab. Before he was an MP, I employed him as my chief of staff.

He always drove himself hard and set very high standards for himself and his team. But not once was he anything but entirely professional. And I have never witnessed him bullying anybody.

Like him, I have some major doubts about the events leading up to the report that led to his resignation.

It appears that none of the allegations were put to Raab in writing at the time, as would be the case in other workplaces.

The rule that requires any complaint is reported within three months was set so that accusations can be checked against the facts.

Also, it meant he could not respond formally at that point.

It begs the question, too, of how someone is meant to change their behaviour if they have not first been told it is upsetting someone.

In direct contravention of the Civil Service Code of Conduct, there were leaks by those claiming Raab behaved inappropriately.

These resulted in an astonishing barrage of propaganda, resulting in what has resembled a witch-hunt against Raab.

Despite the professionalism of Adam Tolley KC’s investigation, we have seen a wider landscape that has been toxic and fraught.

A matter that should be handled with care and confidentiality has been used as a plaything for the Government’s critics.

Take the intemperate comments from the head of the FDA union, criticising the Prime Minister for taking 24 hours to decide on an issue which ended a senior Cabinet Minister’s career.

Such matters should never be rushed just to appease the unions.

Just as concerning is the report’s content itself. The overwhelming majority of the claims were dismissed and two allegations upheld.

One of these involved the way, as Foreign Secretary, he replaced a diplomat in the run-up to Brexit.

The second centred on feedback given to staff. Tolley did not allow for the fact that the diplomat had seriously exceeded his brief and undermined a key part of the Government’s negotiating position.

In most private sector firms, that would be a sackable offence.

To me, neither allegation amounts to bullying, and the idea that Raab’s Ministerial career has been ended by these two points is a miscarriage of justice.

Clearly, Raab forcefully called out what he perceived to be inadequate work. Surely that is understandable considering the pressures of the jobs he was in. Yet these virtues are being presented as vices.

Raab’s fate is a major warning to anyone who wants to improve on public service delivery.

And there have been too many examples of failing public services in recent years, as anyone renewing a passport or driving licence will know.

The public rightly expect Ministers to be able to get a grip on these problems. But what has happened to Dominic Raab means that anyone who tries to do so risks their career. They may invoke the wrath of their staff and be branded bullies.

Tolley’s report does not paint a picture of a bully, but of a dedicated, driven and hard-working public servant.

Sadly, it also reveals civil servants who think that it is OK to ignore the Cabinet’s negotiating mandate or who think that poor quality work should not be challenged.

Sir James Duddridge, who worked for Raab at the Foreign Office, summed up the issue very well when he said: ‘He had high standards, but if you delivered he would back you… He was effective at delivering his vision.’

A good man tried to make his staff deliver, too, and lost his career.

We are all losers as a result.