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Thursday 02 February 2023

“This sort of behaviour destroys lives” - in any other employment context Dominic Raab would be suspended says FDA

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Speaking to ITV’s Evening News FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said: “If you faced eight separate complaints involving dozens of civil servants over four years in three different parts of your organisation, any employer in the country would have an obligation to say ‘should I suspend that person whilst I’m investigating?’” Penman also made this point on the BBC’s Six O’clock News, arguing that anyone else facing “that level of accusation would be suspended pending investigation”. 

FDA Assistant General Secretary, Amy Leversidge, told BBC Radio Surrey that if these complaints were made against a civil servant she would “have no doubt that any employer would suspend them”. 

On Sky News with Kay Burley, Penman stressed the seriousness of bullying accusations. “This sort of behaviour destroys lives”, he stated, “people’s lives and their mental health are at risk when they’re subject to systematic bullying”. 

Penman also responded to Raab’s colleagues stating that they had not witnessed any bullying by highlighting that “bullying is about the abuse of power…the power dynamic between two cabinet colleagues is very different than between the Deputy Prime Ministers and civil servants”. 

The FDA has also argued that appointing a KC to “establish the facts” in an investigation into Raab does not change the fact that the Prime Minister still makes the final decision. Penman reminded Nick Robinson on the Today programme that when proven allegations of bullying against former Home Secretary Priti Patel, were dismissed by then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, civil servants’ trust in the process was broken. 

Rishi Sunak’s handling of these complaints have also left civil servants concerned. As Penman highlighted on Times Radio, the Prime Minister has not been clear about whether he knew of the complaints against Raab when appointing him as Deputy Prime Minister. Instead, “He's hiding behind the issue of whether it was formal complaints”.

As the FDA has long argued for, there needs to be a fully independent process for civil servants to raise complaints against minister. Like, as Penman pointed out on BBC Radio Scotland, the Scottish Government introduced. By removing political expediency from the process and allowing civil servants to trust that their complaint will be taken seriously and, if after a fair hearing, the minister is found in the wrong - appropriate action is taken. 

Penman also appeared on LBC News and BBC News. His words were quoted in The Financial Times, Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Mirror, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Scotsman, BBC News, ITV, The National, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Politics.co.uk and The I.

Penman and Leversidge’s radio appearances were used for news bulletins across the BBC network. 
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