Deputy UK prime minister Dominic Raab is being investigated over new complaints about his conduct towards civil servants, Downing Street said on Wednesday.
Raab, who is also justice secretary, is the subject of an investigation by lawyer Adam Tolley after three complaints were lodged against him last month about his tenure as foreign secretary, justice secretary and Brexit secretary.
Downing Street said five further complaints had been made against Raab “relating to conduct” during a previous stint at the Ministry of Justice. It added they would be part “of the ongoing investigation” by Tolley.
Number 10 said the latest complaints do not relate to Raab’s behaviour during his current tenure as justice secretary. He previously held the role between September 2021 and September 2022.
In a letter to the prime minister, Raab said that he had “never tolerated bullying”, adding praise for his “outstanding civil servants” and “brilliant and dedicated private offices”. The justice secretary added he would “co-operate fully” with Tolley’s investigation and its outcome.
The Ministry of Justice said it had “zero tolerance” for bullying. “The deputy prime minister leads a professional department, driving forward major reforms, where civil servants are valued and the level of ambition is high,” it added.
The latest revelations may intensify pressure on Rishi Sunak, who pledged “integrity and accountability” when he was appointed prime minister in October.
Raab’s conduct towards civil servants has been criticised after allegations emerged that he created a “culture of fear” and displayed aggressive behaviour while serving as justice secretary.
Lord Simon McDonald, the Foreign Office’s former top civil servant, also claimed that officials were “scared” to go into Raab’s office while he was foreign secretary.
McDonald said Raab displayed “abrasive and controlling” behaviour with junior ministers and others within the Foreign Office.
Last month, the government confirmed that Tolley, a barrister with Fountain Court Chambers, would lead the investigation into Raab alongside the Cabinet Office.
The department said the inquiry would be completed “as swiftly as possible”, with the findings to be made public.
Sunak is expected to have the final say on whether Raab has broken the ministerial code that governs the conduct of members of the government, and whether he can remain in his position.
“The prime minister is the ultimate judge of the standards of behaviour expected of a minister and the appropriate consequences of a breach of those standards,” said the Cabinet Office in the terms of reference for Tolley’s inquiry.
The Labour party has called on Raab to step aside. “The prime minister must now say why he has not been suspended until the outcome of the formal investigation and make clear that any breach of the ministerial code will result in his immediate sacking,” said deputy leader Angela Rayner.
Challenged on whether it was plausible for Raab to remain in government during the investigation into his conduct, Downing Street said: “We think it’s right there is an independent process, that the investigator looks into these claims thoroughly before coming to a view.”