Justice secretary Dominic Raab has said the “overwhelming majority” of his staff “relish” working on his “very ambitious agenda”, as an ongoing inquiry into bullying claims continues.
Adam Tolley KC is investigating bullying claims and considering a number of formal complaints made by senior civil servants against Raab, who is also deputy prime minister.
Asked if anything was being done at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to improve staff morale and change culture, Raab told the Lords Home Affairs and Justice Committee on Wednesday he wouldn’t comment on “anything which relates to the inquiry”.
He said: “I’m sure you would agree that would be improper of me.
“But let me say generally, both in previous departments and in the MoJ, I would say we are served by a terrific cohort of civil servants. By and large, the relationship is very effective with ministers across the board.
“I think that we’ve also got a very ambitious agenda in the way that I described, and the overwhelming majority relish that.”
He added: “I work very closely with Antonia Romeo, my permanent secretary.
“We’ve got all the processes in place in relation to bullying processes and procedures to make sure that folk who want to make a complaint can, in the right way.”
Boris Johnson reportedly warned Raab about his conduct when he was in cabinet and is understood to have given evidence to the inquiry, which could conclude within weeks.
Earlier this month, sources confirmed to the PA news agency that Raab had been quizzed.
Dozens of witnesses including top departmental civil servants are also believed to have spoken to the inquiry, which could determine his political fate.
Raab has denied bullying and insisted he had “behaved professionally throughout” but said he would resign if an allegation of bullying was upheld.
Rishi Sunak resisted calls to suspend his deputy but could face questions again about his knowledge of allegations before bringing Raab back into cabinet if findings are damning.
Downing Street ruled out the Prime Minister being aware of “formal complaints”. The eight formal complaints centre on Raab’s tenures as foreign, Brexit and justice secretary.
Raab ordered the investigation after coming under pressure following numerous claims, including that he was so demeaning to colleagues many were “scared” to enter his office.