Saturday 22 April 2023

The departure of Lord Chancellor Raab

Raab at his swearing in
Cards on the table! I am not an admirer of any political agenda that seeks to reduce the rights of the citizen and I am of the view that the Bill of Rights Bill seeks to do just that. 

The architect of the Bill is the Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab MP who, this week, resigned his offices as Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Chancellor, and Deputy Prime Minister. 

Raab's successor in the first two roles is Alexander Chalk KC MP whilst Oliver Dowden MP becomes Deputy PM.

The Bill has received extensive criticism from many legal sources (e.g. Law Society and see the article by Joshua Rozenberg). It has not made any significant progress in Parliament. Who knows, it may be dropped by Raab's successor? I think he would be wise to do so given both the extensive criticism the Bill has received from notable legal sources and also the parliamentary time the Bill is likely to consume.

I do not know Mr Raab and have not met him. I have no reason to like or dislike him on a personal level. In any event, a golden rule in blogging, and in life generally, should be to play the ball and not the man.

As a Minister he was entitled to pursue government policy for which the political party in power was elected and for which the Cabinet has collective responsibility. I would question whether, based on the Conservative Party 2019 manifesto, there is a mandate to, for example, repeal the Human Rights Act 1998.  Ministers are supposed to operate within the Ministerial Code issued by the Prime Minister. 

The civil service operates by the Civil Service Code and is there to advise Ministers. Advice must be thorough and robust and paint a "warts and all" picture so that the Minister can make fully informed decisions. Once a policy decision has been taken and clearly set out, it is then for civil servants to assist in its implementation no matter what their individual views are about the policy.

Complaints were made by civil servants about Raab's conduct in dealing with some officials. This led to an investigation by Adam Tolley KC. The investigation was instigated, at Raab's request, by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Tolley was constrained by Terms of Reference set out by the PM. Essentially, Tolley's brief was to establish facts. What to do about any adverse findings was to be left to the PM.

Tolley's report was published on 21 April 2023 and, in fact, describes Raab in rather glowing terms - Investigation report to the Prime Minister - GOV.UK ( The report states that Raab is highly intelligent, pays close attention to detail and seeks to make decisions based on evidence. He has strong principles and is guided by them in practice. He works assiduously. He likes to use his working time effectively. 

Those are surely qualities to be admired even if they may not be everyone's cup of tea. In Raab's own words, his style is inquisitorial, direct, impatient and fastidious.  As a "boss" he is certainly not going to be your "best mate" and, clearly, you had best be well prepared for any business meeting with him. That's not at all unlike a lawyer ought to be when meeting clients or presenting cases in court. Of course, it is still possible to be courteous and respectful.

It is clear from Tolley's report that, on a number of occasions, Raab caused distress to some in the civil service but he did not do so intentionally. One example is that,