Dominic Raab should quit or be fired, a cabinet minister has said as it emerged that more civil servants than previously thought are part of the investigation into allegations he bullied staff.
The deputy PM is under growing pressure after top lawyer Gina Miller told The Independent Mr Raab had called her “stupid” during an “aggressive” encounter, while BBC comedian Nish Kumaraccused him of racial insensitivity.
The justice secretary is also said to be facing a single complaint based on the concerns of 27 civil servants as the Ministry of Justice alone as part of the official probe by Adam Tolley KC.
More than two dozen staff are “represented” by a memo stating that some were forced to leave work for “extended periods” because of Mr Raab, according to The Observer.
“The combination of the pressure of work and unreasonable deadlines has had such an impact on some colleagues’ mental and physical health that they have visited their GPs, and some have subsequently been signed off work for extended periods of time,” the joint complaint stated.
Meanwhile, a current cabinet minister said Mr Raab’s position was untenable. “Raab has got to go,” the colleague the Sunday Telegraph – saying they had “heard too much” from civil servants alleging that “he’s an absolute s***”.
The minister added: “I just don’t think he’s a very nice human being. OK, we’re not there to be nice human beings, we’re there to run the country. But you need to respect your civil servants, and I don’t think he has much of that in him, I’m afraid.”
It was previously reported that around 24 civil servants were part of the complaints across three departments. Mr Raab was warned over alleged bullying behaviour by several bosses at government departments he ran, it has been claimed.
Permanent secretaries at the Foreign Office, the MoJ and the Department for Exiting the European Union are all said to have raised informal concerns with Mr Raab.
Tory MPs are keen for the inquiry ordered by Rishi Sunak to be concluded as soon as possible, but the probe could still take several weeks to finish up – with Mr Raab reportedly yet to be interviewed.
Former Tory party chairman Sir Jake Berry called for Mr Raab to be suspended while he is investigated over claims he bullied officials.
Sir Jake said it would be normal practice in the private sector for someone facing such allegations to be stand aside while the matter was dealt with – saying ministers are “not some form of special human being”.
“The way these sort of complaints would be dealt with in the private sector is you would be suspended while they were investigated,” he said in an interview BBC Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster.
Mr Berry added: “MPs and ministers are not some form of special human being, I think they should just be treated like anyone else is in their workplace.”
The FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, has already called for his suspension, while Labour has accused Mr Sunak of being too weak to move against his deputy – one of his strongest supporters in the battle for the Tory leadership.
Ms Miller, anti-Brexit campaigner, claimed Mr Raab called her “stupid” and “naive” during an “aggressive” encounter at the BBC.
In a carefully worded statement, a spokesperson for the deputy prime minister said Mr Raab “rejects the description and characterisation” of him given by Ms Miller.
Mr Kumar said he had witnessed an incident at a BBC recording described by Ms Miller, in which Mr Raab confused her brother Gary Marlowe, a GP, with Mr Kumar.
“I have to say I felt no confidence that [Mr Raab] can differentiate between different Asians,” Mr Kumar told The Independent. “It left us both feeling a sense of disrespect and disregard for our identity.”
Sources close to Mr Raab say he would have greeted everyone at the BBC recording “as a matter of manners”.
Business secretary Grant Shapps said on Sunday that Mr Raab was “very polite” in his presence, and insisted that the independent investigation into bullying allegations is allowed to take place.
“I can only say from personal experience I’ve only ever seen him being very polite not only to me but to other officials in the room,” he told GB News. “He’s certainly very determined and he knows what he wants to get out of the system. I think the investigation will get to the bottom of all of that.”
A Raab ally told he Sunday Telegraph that working with him “is like working for a CEO – he is relentless about getting the best out of a department … He is professional to a tee – he would never demean, disrespect or bully”.