RISHI Sunak has lavished praise on his former deputy Dominic Raab despite a bullying probe finding he was “intimidating” and “aggressive” to officials.

The Prime Minister said had he accepted Mr Raab’s resignation as deputy PM and Justice Secretary with “great sadness” this morning.

He said Mr Raab should be “extremely proud” of his achievements, and commended his “collegiate” way of working when he briefly became acting PM during the Coivd pandemic.

He criticised the way the bullying complaints were handled, referring to "shortcomings" in the process that "negatively affected" all involved.

Mr Sunak also said he wanted Mr Raab to stay on an MP amid calls for him to stand down.

Mr Raab resigned taking a defiant swipe at the five-month investigaton by Adam Tolley KC into eight formal complaints of bullying civil servants in three departments.

“In setting the threshold for bullying so low, this inquiry has set a dangerous precedent,” he said in his resignation letter, warning it would “encourage spurious complaints”.

In the report, Mr Raab said his style was “inquisitorial, direct, impatient and fastidious”.

But Mr Tolley said he also made “unconstructive critical comments” about people’s work, describing some efforts as “utterly useless” and “woeful”.

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In his reply to Mr Raab, Mr Sunak said he entered No10 promising “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” and ministers abiding by a strict code of conduct.

He said: “When formal complaints about your conduct in different ministerial posts were submitted last year, I appointed at your request an independent investigator to conduct a full investigation into the specific facts surrounding these complaints.

“Adam Tolley KC has now submitted his report and I have carefully considered its findings, as well as consulting the independent adviser on ministers’ interests.

“As you say, you had – rightly – undertaken to resign if the report made any finding of bullying whatsoever. You have kept your word.

“But it is clear that there have been shortcomings in the historic process that have negatively affected everyone involved. We should learn from this how to better handle such matters in future.”

“But your resignation should not make us forget your record of delivery in both this Government and previous administrations. These achievements should make you extremely proud.” 

Mr Sunak cited Mr Raab’s work as Justice Secretary and Foreign Secretary, and his time as acting PM when Boris Johnson was hospitalised with Covid in 2020.

“As Chancellor as the time, I was struck by the collegiate way in which you handled this most difficult of challenges,” Mr Sunak said.

READ MORE: Dominic Raab quits as deputy PM with bitter attack on bullying inquiry

“I will always be grateful for your steadfast personal support during last year’s Conservative Party leadership contest from the day you introduced me at the launch to the last day of the contest.

“The subsequent dedication, commitment and loyalty with which you have discharged your responsibilities as Deputy Prime Minister has been typical of your belief in public service.

“I look forward to receiving your support from the backbenches as you continue to passionately represent your constituents of Esher and Walton.”