Tory MPs have come to the defense of Dominic Raab after the Deputy Prime Minister was accused of being ‘rude’ and ‘aggressive’ towards civil servants.
Rishi Sunak faces further questions over his judgment as allegations have emerged over Mr Raab’s behavior during his previous tenure as justice secretary – staff are said to have offered an ‘exit’ from his department during of his reinstatement in October.
Multiple sources have claimed that the Cabinet Minister has created a ‘culture of fear’ within the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), according to The Guardian.
But some Tories have come to her defence, with Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and The Weald, saying she witnessed a ‘very decent’ minister with ‘high professional standards’ when the couple came into contact during Mr. Raab’s tenure as Foreign Secretary.
Ms Grant, who said she worked with Mr Raab last year in his capacity as the UK’s special envoy for girls’ global education, insisted MPs Esher and Walton had “a tolerance zero for bullying”.
Fellow Tory MP Eddie Hughes also said he had never seen Mr Raab being rude to anyone during his time in the housing or Brexit departments.
The MP for Walsall North tweeted: ‘When I got my first job as his PPS I was told Dom was demanding. “He works very hard and expects others to work too.”
“I was thrilled. I wanted to work for someone who took his role seriously. We hit it off right from the start. I never saw him being rude to anyone at MHCLG or DExEU.
Further allegations about Mr Raab emerged on Friday night, with The Mirror reporting that the Justice Secretary acquired the nickname ‘The Incinerator’ because he ‘burns’ staff.
The sunmeanwhile, suggested that Mr Raab once threw tomatoes from a salad across a room in a fit of anger – an allegation described as “rotten” by shadow minister David Lammy.
A spokesman for the Cabinet minister said the salad allegation was “nonsense”.
A source claimed the Cabinet Office had been made aware of concerns over Mr Raab’s behavior when he was Brexit secretary, according to ITV News.
But the department said it had “no record of any official complaints”.
Labor and the Lib Dems have called for an investigation into the allegations.
Insiders insisted the Justice Secretary did not engage in any form of intimidation, acknowledging he was “direct” but adding that he values his team highly.
They refuted any suggestion that he does not conduct himself in a professional manner, adding that they do not recognize the nickname “Incinerator” or the idea that there has been a high turnover of staff working with him.
The allegations could prove embarrassing for Mr Sunak, whose choice of Cabinet colleagues has already been questioned.
The Prime Minister has come under fire for reappointing Sir Gavin Williamson to his senior team after being told he was under investigation for allegedly bullying former chief whip Wendy Morton.
Mr Sunak has also been criticized for reinstating Suella Braverman as Home Secretary just six days after she was forced to resign due to a security breach.
The Guardian reported that around 15 staff from the Justice Secretary’s office were called to a meeting when he returned to his post, where it was acknowledged that they might have concerns about his conduct.
They were reportedly given the opportunity to switch roles, with some visibly emotional.
Antonia Romeo, the top Justice Department official, also reportedly spoke to Mr Raab upon his return to warn him of the need to treat staff with professionalism and respect.
The newspaper said it spoke to officials who defended Mr Raab’s approach, but acknowledged it could be construed as unprofessional or even intimidating.
It is understood that no formal complaint has been filed against him.
Deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner called the charges “deeply disturbing”, saying they raise “even more questions” about Mr Sunak’s trial.
She also accused the Prime Minister of failing to “fill the ethical void at the heart of Downing Street” by appointing a new independent adviser on ministers’ interests.
A spokesperson for Mr Raab said: “Dominic has high standards, works hard and expects a lot from his team as well as himself.
‘He has worked well with civil servants to advance the government’s agenda across Whitehall in several government departments and always acts with the utmost professionalism.’
A Department of Justice spokeswoman said: “There is zero tolerance for bullying in the public service.
“The Deputy Prime Minister leads a professional department, pushing forward major reforms, where civil servants are valued and the level of ambition is high.”
Mr Raab was removed as Justice Secretary, a post he had held since September 2021, by Liz Truss when she entered No 10, but reinstated by Mr Sunak.