Friday, December 9

Officials ‘scared’ to go into Raab’s office when he was foreign secretary, claims former FCO chief, as bullying claims persist – live | Politics

Officials ‘scared’ to go into Raab’s office when he was foreign secretary, says former FCO chief, as bullying claims persist

Yesterday Simon McDonald (now Lord Mcdonald), the former Foreign Office permanent secretary, gave an interview saying he was not surprised that staff viewed Dominic Raab as a bully when he was foreign secretary. Today he has gone further, telling Times Radio that many officials were “scared” to go into Raab’s office.

But at the time Raab was not aware of the impact his behaviour was having on people, McDonald said. He explained:

When I worked for him, Dominic Raab was not aware of the impact of his behaviour on the people working for him, and couldn’t be made to see that impact. Colleagues did not complain to me formally. It was kind of their professional pride to cope.

But many were scared to go into his office. His sort of defence was that he treated everyone in the building in the same way. He was as abrasive and controlling with junior ministers and senior officials, as he was with his private secretaries.

After I left, I heard that the outcome of the Priti Patel bullying investigation had a sobering effect on him. And for a time his behaviour improved.

Asked to explain how Raab’s behaviour was intimidating, McDonald said:

It was language, it was tone, he would be very curt with people. And he did this in front of a lot of other people. I think people felt demeaned.

McDonald said he was not aware of anyone submitting a formal complaint about Raab. But he said people were reluctant to complain because the system was seen as biased against them, and he said he hoped Rishi Sunak would reform the system for dealing with allegations of bullying. He said:

What we have at the moment is not fit for purpose. Action is only taken if there is a formal complaint and there is a feeling in the system that the system is stacked in favour of the minister or senior official. So people hesitate to make a formal complaint because of the effect on themselves.

This needs to be reworked. There needs to be somebody of seniority and independence and authority that can connect both with the prime minister and with the emerging subjects of such complaints.

Here is our latest story about the persistent allegations about Raab bullying officials.

A spokesperson for Raab said:

The deputy prime minister has worked in government for over seven years as a minister or secretary of state across four departments and enjoyed strong working relationships with officials across Whitehall. He consistently holds himself to the highest standards of professionalism and has never received nor been made aware of any formal complaint against him.

Key events

Filters BETA

UK strike levels soar as public sector workers face worst pay squeeze

The number of working days lost to strikes in the UK has risen to the highest in more than a decade as pay growth in the public sector falls behind the private sector at the sharpest rate on record, my colleague Richard Partington reports.

Officials ‘scared’ to go into Raab’s office when he was foreign secretary, says former FCO chief, as bullying claims persist

Yesterday Simon McDonald (now Lord Mcdonald), the former Foreign Office permanent secretary, gave an interview saying he was not surprised that staff viewed Dominic Raab as a bully when he was foreign secretary. Today he has gone further, telling Times Radio that many officials were “scared” to go into Raab’s office.

But at the time Raab was not aware of the impact his behaviour was having on people, McDonald said. He explained:

When I worked for him, Dominic Raab was not aware of the impact of his behaviour on the people working for him, and couldn’t be made to see that impact. Colleagues did not complain to me formally. It was kind of their professional pride to cope.

But many were scared to go into his office. His sort of defence was that he treated everyone in the building in the same way. He was as abrasive and controlling with junior ministers and senior officials, as he was with his private secretaries.

After I left, I heard that the outcome of the Priti Patel bullying investigation had a sobering effect on him. And for a time his behaviour improved.

Asked to explain how Raab’s behaviour was intimidating, McDonald said:

It was language, it was tone, he would be very curt with people. And he did this in front of a lot of other people. I think people felt demeaned.

McDonald said he was not aware of anyone submitting a formal complaint about Raab. But he said people were reluctant to complain because the system was seen as biased against them, and he said he hoped Rishi Sunak would reform the system for dealing with allegations of bullying. He said:

What we have at the moment is not fit for purpose. Action is only taken if there is a formal complaint and there is a feeling in the system that the system is stacked in favour of the minister or senior official. So people hesitate to make a formal complaint because of the effect on themselves.

This needs to be reworked. There needs to be somebody of seniority and independence and authority that can connect both with the prime minister and with the emerging subjects of such complaints.

Here is our latest story about the persistent allegations about Raab bullying officials.

A spokesperson for Raab said:

The deputy prime minister has worked in government for over seven years as a minister or secretary of state across four departments and enjoyed strong working relationships with officials across Whitehall. He consistently holds himself to the highest standards of professionalism and has never received nor been made aware of any formal complaint against him.

Here are some more pictures of Rishi Sunak at the G20.

Rishi Sunak arriving for the G20 leaders’ summit in Bali this morning (Bali time) Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Rishi Sunak with Olaf Sholz, the German chancellor.
Sunak with Olaf Sholz (left), the German chancellor. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images,
Sunak talking to the Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau (right), during a summit event on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.
Sunak talking to the Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau (right), during a summit event on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Sunak says Russian foreign minister had to listen as G20 leaders highlighted ‘illegality and barbaric nature’ of Russia’s war

Rishi Sunak has said that he and fellow world leaders highlighted “the illegality and barbaric nature of Russia’s war” at the opening session of the G20 summit. He told broadcasters:

This morning at the G20 we saw international condemnation of Russia’s war in Ukraine. And, with Russia’s foreign minister sitting there, we highlighted both the illegality and barbaric nature of Russia’s war.

And also the devastating impact it’s having on people around the world through higher food and energy prices.

We have a responsibility to work with our G20 allies to fix the global economy, to grip inflation, but also to safeguard and preserve the international order, and that’s what we’re going to do.

World leaders at the opening session of the G20 summit.
World leaders at the opening session of the G20 summit. Photograph: Uae Presidential Court/Reuters

According to Downing Street, Rishi Sunak is “confident” there is growing opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine among G20 countries. As my colleague Jessica Elgot reports, in his speech at the opening session of the summit Sunak said that Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine had “profound implications” for the world and that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, should have been willing to come to the G20 to face other world leaders.

The PM’s spokesperson told journalists this morning (UK time) that Sunak is is “confident that there is a growing number of countries who oppose” Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The spokesperson went on:

It wouldn’t be right for me to speak on behalf of other world leaders but there was certainly very strong condemnation from a number of quarters.

I think that the prime minister, as you saw it, was very forthright and frank in his assessment of the problems that we are currently seeing.

Downing Street released a picture of Sunak glowering at the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in the opening session of the summit. The photograph seems routine (although it does inadvertently highlight the fact that Sunak is someone who is never going to win a menacing stare competition – he should take lessons from Theresa May). But the Labour MP Chris Bryant does not approve.

No 10 is just childish. Lavrov understands one thing only, battleground defeat. He knows Sunak endlessly refused to tackle dodgy Russian money in London because his own family benefited. The economic crime bill still doesn’t do the trick. https://t.co/R1fAbE9w3H

— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) November 15, 2022

Sunak meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Rishi Sunak had a meeting at the G20 summit with Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. According to No 10, Sunak did not bring up the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, which Prince Mohammed is thought to have ordered, but he did raise women’s rights, and freedom in Saudi Arabi generally.

After the meeting, the PM’s spokesperson said:

They had a fairly lengthy discussion on some of the work by Saudi Arabia in recent years to improve on social reforms. They talked about issues like women’s rights and the need for more progress on freedoms in the kingdom.

Asked if Sunak raised the 2018 killing, the spokesperson said: “He didn’t raise specific individual cases. That’s not normally the norm in these sorts of things.” The spokesperson went on:

They had a good discussion. I think it was an honest discussion about the importance of the relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia.

Rishi Sunak meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at the G20 summit.
Rishi Sunak meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at the G20 summit. Photograph: Leon Neal/AP

Iain Duncan Smith tells Sunak he would be ‘completely wrong’ to soften stance on China

Good morning. Rishi Sunak is in Bali, and this morning (or this afternoon Bali-time – they are eight hours ahead) he will record a round of TV interviews, which should start playing out before lunch. Sunak had a lengthy huddle (journospeak for an informal, standup press briefing) on his flight to Indonesia, and one line that emerged was that he is backing away from Liz Truss’s plan to recategorise China as a threat. My colleague Jessica Elgot has the story here.

Ten years ago, when the Conservative party was prioritising trade with China above human rights concerns, this would not have been controversial. But now those MPs most critical of China in the House of Commons tend to be Tories, and there is a significant faction in the party who view China primarily, not as a commercial partner, but as a hostile state and a national security threat.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former party leader, is one of the leading figures in this group and this morning he told TalkTV that he was worried that Sunak’s position amounted to “appeasement” of China. He said:

[Sunak] said in the summer, categorically, that he considered China to be a systemic threat. So what we’re seeing here at the moment, I think, is the beginnings of a step away from his original position …

Everything in government flows, the way we treat the Chinese diplomats over here, the ones that were beating up the peaceful protesters in Manchester, the way that we deal with the Confucius Institutes spying on Chinese students, or even these bogus Chinese police stations threatening Chinese expatriates and trying to get them back to China, [from the government’s stance]. All of those are aggressive moves, and it’s time to call them out as what they are, a threat, but I hope he’s not about to do a U-turn, it would be completely wrong.

And it would become really appeasement of China, which is what’s happening in government at the moment.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9am (UK time): Rishi Sunak is recording a series of broadcast interviews at the G20 summit in Bali. They should start appearing on TV or digital media from around 10am.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

11.30am: Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, takes questions in the Commons.

After 12.30pm: MPs begin debating a Labour motion censuring Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng “for their mismanagement of the economy while in office, which has resulted in an average increase of £500 per month in mortgage payments for families across the UK”, and saying they should forfeit their ministerial severance payments. The vote will be at around 4pm.

2pm: James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, gives evidence to the European scrutiny committee about the UK’s new relationship with Europe.

3pm: Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, gives evidence to Commons standards committee.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions and, if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com





Source link