Downing Street has encouraged officials concerned about Dominic Raab’s behavior as boss to contact the investigator looking into bullying claims.
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, came under pressure for his handling of the allegations against Mr Raab, the Justice Secretary, in the Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
The claims about the Deputy Prime Minister’s conduct are being reviewed by Adam Tolley KC. There have been concerns about whether all potential whistleblowers will participate in the process.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Absolutely anyone who has concerns should come forward and speak to Adam Tolley. And, as I say, there are established processes by which they can do that.”
It came as Dave Penman, head of the FDA union, which represents senior officials, said Raab should be suspended to protect staff members while the investigation takes place.
Penman said in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If that was any other employee, if it was a permanent secretary in the Civil Service, they would in all probability be suspended from their job whilst the investigation is carried out.”
“That’s not to prejudge the investigation, I mean, if there are serious allegations of bullying and extensive allegations like this one, one of the considerations is how do you protect employees from that type of behavior?
“Pending that determination, I would normally suspend someone, given the seriousness and scope of those allegations.”
The suggestion was rejected by the Prime Minister’s official spokesman, who argued that it is important that the investigation be completed.
Downing Street also did not pointedly deny that Sunak was aware of the informal claims about Raab’s behavior when he gave him a cabinet post in October.
Raab’s press secretary said: “The prime minister was not aware of any formal complaints at the time of appointing Dominic Raab.” Informal complaints were not denied.
Raab has always denied wrongdoing, telling the House of Commons in November: “I am sure I have conducted myself professionally at all times.”
In Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, cited anonymous allegations against Mr Raab from recent press reports and accused the Prime Minister of being “too weak to do anything about it”.
Sunak said: “When I found out about the formal complaints, I appointed a lead independent KC to investigate, because I take action when these things happen.”
Asked by Sky News on Wednesday as he was leaving Downing Street if he was going to resign, Raab said: “No.”
His spokesman also rejected media speculation that he might resign before the investigation is complete.