Dominic Raab faces bullying complaints from around one dozen more former staffers, according to reports, as an investigation begins into claims the deputy prime minister left government workers afraid to approach him.
Questions have also been raised over Mr Raab’s alleged use of personal email accounts for government business at two different departments including the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which he currently leads, BBC Newsnight reported.
Rishi Sunak has appointed a leading barrister to investigate two formal complaints made last week about Mr Raab’s conduct while running the MoJ and Foreign Office. Mr Raab denies allegations of bullying and Mr Sunak said he supports his deputy.
Wednesday night’s edition of Newsnight reported that around 12 of the minister’s ex-private secretaries are preparing to coordinate further complaints against him. The programme also carried allegations that some officials who worked for Mr Raab in his earlier stint at the MoJ were offered therapy at the public’s expense.
Sources told the programme that dozens of his officials left their posts, adding that his behaviour was “nasty”, “horrible” and “manipulative”.
Newsnight also reported that Mr Raab used private email accounts for government business at two departments, doing so as recently as last year, despite several officials warning him there were security implications for his actions.
The minister told the programme that using a private email for government business did not always count as a breach of the ministerial code.
But the claims echoed a recent scandal involving Mr Raab’s cabinet colleague Suella Braverman, who was forced to resign as home secretary in the final days of Liz Truss’s government for using her personal account to share government documents.
News of further potential bullying complaints against the justice secretary came soon after The Guardian reported that a “handful” of new claims had been made by MoJ civil servants, with sources saying Mr Raab created a “perverse culture of fear”.
Mr Sunak has asked commercial and employment law specialist Adam Tolley KC to look into the formal complaints against Mr Raab, after the justice secretary requested an independent investigation.
Downing Street has indicated Mr Tolley’s remit could extend to other allegations against Mr Raab.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said the lawyer had been appointed to “conduct the investigation, establish the facts and provide his findings”.
“He’s asked to look into those two formal complaints to establish the facts. He’s also able to discuss with the Prime Minister if he wants to look into other issues that may arise.”
Normally, Downing Street’s independent adviser on ministerial ethics would carry out such an investigation but the post has been empty since Lord Geidt quit in June in protest at Boris Johnson’s apparent readiness to breach the law.