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Thursday 09 February 2023

FDA calls on Prime Minister to give Independent Adviser power to make recommendations over Raab bullying findings

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As reported by the Guardian,  FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has written to the Prime Minister, urging him to consult his ethics adviser over bullying claims against the Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab. 

In the letter to Rishi Sunak, Penman highlighted that the investigation by Adam Tolley KC is only seeking to establish the facts around the complaints against Raab, but Sunak alone will determine the outcome of the investigation. As it stands, the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, Sir Laurie Magnus, does not have a role in the investigation.

The General Secretary continued: “I fully recognise that it is for you alone to determine whether there has been a breach of the Ministerial Code and the consequences for a minister. However, the role of the Independent Adviser in determining on those facts and advising you in relation to the allegations and the Ministerial Code is critical in providing confidence to civil servants and the public when it comes to matters of integrity and propriety. It is, after all, why the Adviser is deemed to be independent.

“I want to make clear, we are not in any way raising a concern as to the integrity or conduct of Adam Tolley KC – quite the opposite. It is the lack of any independent input into the decision-making following his investigation that is concerning us.” 

Penman explains in his letter that the lack of oversight from an Independent Adviser is not a “theoretical concern”, as Sunak has “deliberately chosen not to answer a direct question over whether [he] was aware of concerns over the conduct of the Deputy Prime Minister when [he] appointed him”. The letter also states that Sunak has “repeatedly relied on the lack of a formal complaint as an evasion tactic over this issue”.

Penman argues: 

“Not only does that raise doubts as to your knowledge about his conduct but you are doing so knowing full well that the formal complaints process was fatally undermined by the decision of the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ignore the findings of bullying against Priti Patel. It can therefore come as no surprise to any interested party that civil servants had no confidence in the process of raising formal complaints under the Ministerial Code.”

The letter concludes that “conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived, only serve to undermine that confidence and that, after all, is why the independent adviser role exists.”

You can read the full letter below:

FDA letter to Rt Hon RishI ... by Tom

You download the letter as a PDF here.
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