Tories forced to pay £20k to researcher for ‘Burn Your Briefs’ MP
Payout for woman who claimed workplace bullying under Dominic Raab
A WOMAN who worked for the MP who said men should ‘burn their briefs’ to highlight discrimination against them was given a secret £20,000 payoff by the Tories to drop claims that she was bullied.
The payment to Alivia Kratke came to light after Conservative MP Dominic Raab was publicly rapped by Home Secretary Theresa May, who told him denouncing ‘obnoxious’ feminists was not the way to tackle sexism in the workplace.
But The Mail on Sunday can now disclose that Mr Raab was in an acrimonious row over sexism in the workplace himself when he was chief of staff to former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis.
According to one claim, Mr Raab occasionally made comments on the number of times women went to the lavatory. Others say he was ‘difficult’ to work for.
High-flying Mr Raab, who entered the Commons at the last Election, and has already been tipped as a potential future Cabinet Minister, last night said: ‘This is a smear and any insinuation that I have behaved improperly is false and malicious.’
Ms Kratke left Mr Davis’s office in 2007 after spending 20 months as a parliamentary researcher. In late 2007 she is understood to have won £20,000 in an out-of-court settlement after she lodged an employment tribunal claim over her treatment in the office during Mr Raab’s time in charge. If the case had gone ahead her claims would have been aired in public, which could have gravely embarrassed the Tories.
Under the terms of the settlement, Ms Kratke is banned from speaking about the matter. But a friend said she suffered from ‘emotional bullying’ when she worked at the Commons and was left ‘traumatised’ by the experience.
‘Dominic would set impossible targets for people to meet,’ said one
‘He was bad at dealing with women in the office’
source. ‘He was very bad at dealing with women in his office. He would make comments if you went to the loo too often. He was incredibly rigid and always on at Alivia. It became a very unhappy office.
‘Everyone adored working for David [Davis]. He is a hard taskmaster but he commanded huge affection and respect. It all changed when Dominic arrived.’ Another source said: ‘Alivia said that the experience at Westminster had made her feel worthless. She regarded David as a working-class role model. Like him, she was born into humble surroundings but made a success of herself. But Dominic was very critical.’
State-educated Ms Kratke, 27, the daughter of a Polish immigrant, was born in the seaside town of Clacton, Essex. According to a CV posted on the internet, she attended Colchester Royal Grammar School, one of the best state schools in Britain, ‘played the oboe, piano, sang and competed in the Rotary International Debating competition’. The CV says a highlight was auditioning for a role as an urchin in the West End musical Oliver!
After achieving five A-levels at grade A, she studied law at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where she was president of the university Inner Temple Society for lawyers. She went on to study for a masters degree in law at University College London.
She enjoyed a brief spell as a production assistant on Channel 4’s The Friday Night Project with comedians Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr, and the Channel 5 daytime show The Wright Stuff with Matthew Wright, before switching to politics. After leaving Mr Davis’s office, she qualified as a solicitor last September and now works as a tax lawyer for top City accountants, Deloitte. Her CV says her ambition is to become a chartered tax adviser.
The CV says working for Mr Davis was ‘one of the most enjoyable and memorable periods of my life’ – but Mr Raab is not mentioned. Mr Raab, 36, who is half-Czech and has a black belt in karate, holds law degrees from Oxford and Cambridge.
After training as a business lawyer at Linklaters solicitors, he joined the Foreign Office as a diplomat, and led the legal team at the British Embassy in The Hague responsible for bringing war criminals to justice. It is a subject close to his heart: his father was a Jewish refugee who came to the UK in 1938 to escape the Nazis.
Mr Raab worked as Mr Davis’s chief of staff from 2006 to 2008. He went on to perform the same role for Tory MP Dominic Grieve and won the Surrey constituency of Esher and Walton with a huge majority of 18,593 at the last Election.
In his controversial call for men to emulate feminist bra burners, Mr Raab, who is married to Brazilian marketing executive Erika, said Britain had some of the toughest anti-discrimination laws in the world, but was ‘blind to some of the most flagrant discrimination – against men’.
He went on: ‘From the cradle to the grave, men are getting a raw deal. Men work longer hours, die earlier, but retire later than women. It’s time men burned their briefs, to put to an end once and for all to what Emmeline Pankhurst called “’the double standard of sex morals”.
‘You can’t have it both ways – either you believe in equality or you don’t. One reason women are left “holding the baby” is anti-male discrimination in rights of maternity/paternity leave.
‘One commentator complained that, “High-flying women are programmed to go for high-flying men. Most men aren’t attracted to women who are more successful than they
He claimed feminists were ‘obnoxious bigots’
are.” Can you imagine the outrage if such trite generalisations were made about women, or other minorities?
‘Take the gender pay gap. The fascinating thing is just how sexist its champions have become. It is almost taboo for a man to question the assertion that the rapidly dwindling pay gap is the result of discrimination, rather than genuine choice.
‘Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots.’
Mr Raab won support from some male Tory colleagues. But he got short shrift from Mrs May, who is also Minister for Women and Equalities, when he repeated his argument in the Commons on Thursday, asking a question about paternity leave to ‘eliminate anti-male discrimination at the workplace’.
Mrs May replied sharply: ‘We should be trying to get away from gender warfare of equality. Labelling feminists as obnoxious bigots is not the way forward to do that.’ Mr Raab was clearly taken aback by the rebuff and slumped in his seat, before trying to laugh it off with colleagues.
SILENCED: Alvivia Kratke is banned from talking about her treatment in the office run by Dominic Raab, left, following the settlement