Dominic Raab is facing multiple fresh complaints from senior civil servants in multiple government departments over allegations of bullying behaviour, according to reports.
The deputy prime minister’s former private secretaries, responsible for handling the day-to-day affairs of government ministers, are preparing to submit formal complaints, according to BBC Newsnight.
The fresh complaints come a day after Rishi Sunak appointed a lawyer to investigate formal complaints into his deputy prime minister, whom multiple civil servants have accused of bullying behaviour across several government departments.
“There are a series of allegations that appear to be coming across a number of departments where Dominic Raab has worked, each one is going to have to be approved by the prime minister for investigation,” Dave Penman, the general secretary FDA union, said.
When asked by Newsnight if the coordinated effort by civil servants might look like a “witch-hunt”, Penman said it demonstrated a level of concern about the deputy prime minister’s behaviour.
“This is an extraordinary set of circumstances,” said Penman. “We’ve never come across a situation where so many civil servants appear to be raising complaints about a minister’s conduct.”
The Guardian previously revealed multiple allegations of bullying across three government departments including the MoJ, the Brexit department and the Foreign Office.
Raab has previously denied any wrongdoing and expressed support for the review. Labour has called on the prime minister to expand the scope of the inquiry to allow the independent investigation of formal and informal complaints.
Downing Street said the lawyer, Adam Tolley KC, who has been tasked with investigating the complaints, will be able to widen his investigation to look into other complaints if the prime minister agrees.
The programme also reported the alleged use of personal email accounts for government business in two government departments, including as recently as his time as justice secretary last year. Multiple officials raised “deep concerns” with Raab about using his personal email account, according to the programme.
The alleged breach of ministerial rules comes after the current home secretary, Suella Braverman, was forced to resign from the post under the then prime minister Liz Truss, in part, after sending an official document from her personal email to a fellow MP.
After the home secretary was reappointed to the position by Sunak, Braverman admitted to using her personal email for official business six times, apologising for her “errors of judgment”.
The new bullying complaints place renewed pressure on the prime minister, who Penman said has to decide whether it is “safe” for civil servants to continue to work with Raab amid serious allegations about his conduct.
“That’s what any employer would do,” said Penman. “This is about the prime minister making a decision. He wants to retain veto in control through the ministerial code, with that comes the responsibility to protect civil servants.”