Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab is the subject of formal complaints from “at least 24 civil servants”, raising a huge question mark over his future and piling further pressure on his boss Rishi Sunak, reports the Guardian.
The number of formal complaints against Raab – who is also justice secretary – has tripled since Downing Street confirmed he was facing eight complaints in December and now “could be more than 30,” according to sources.
Six of the original eight complaints relate to Raab’s previous tenure in the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and one each from his time as foreign secretary and Brexit secretary.
Sunak read excerpts of complainants’ statements before ordering the investigation into Raab, conducted by Kevin Tolley KC who is looking at possible breaches of the ministerial code.
Raab is accused of bullying behaviour by civil servants who claim he “belittled and demeaned” them and was “very rude and aggressive” several times a day.
Claims made about Raab have shocked officials close to the inquiry, the Guardian reports. Individuals were “physically sick before meetings, regularly in tears and, in more than one case, left feeling suicidal as a result of the alleged behaviour.”
The deputy PM and justice secretary denies the allegations and said he will “thoroughly rebut and refute” the formal complaints claiming he has “acted professionally” and is “always mindful” of his behaviour.
When previously asked about the complaints made against him, Raab told the BBC that the “minute” he found out about them he “immediately asked for an independent investigation”.
“That’s outstanding. That’s ongoing. I can’t comment on that, it would be wrong for me to do so.
“But as I’ve said before, I’m confident I behaved professionally throughout, and of course the government takes a zero-tolerance approach to bullying.”
When asked if he has modified his behaviour since the formal complaints were made against him, Raab replied: “I don’t think I have done anything wrong. “So look, of course I’m always mindful of the way I behave.
“But actually I think what people want to know is that their Government ministers are striving every sinew to deliver for them and I make no apologies for having high standards, for trying to drive things forward…
“I think people expect ministers that come in to really push things forward and drive things forward.
“But that can be done, of course, in a professional way, and I’m confident that that’s what I’ve done throughout.”
At PMQs on Wednesday (Jan 25), Sunak was again called “weak” by Sir Keir Starmer, this time for his failure to sack Conservative party chairman Nadhim Zahawi from the cabinet given the fallout over his tax affairs. Now Sunak’s judgment is being questioned over his reappointing Raab to deputy prime minister in October.