Dominic Raab’s ex-private secretaries to lodge formal complaints

Deputy PM Dominic Raab is facing fresh bullying complaints from senior civil servants across multiple government departments, BBC Newsnight has learned.

Simon Jupp was a SpAd to Raab before being selected as the Conservative candidate for East Devon.

Interestingly, Simon recently said this about the “shouty oldies of Salterton”: “There’s no excuse to verbally abuse staff who are just doing their jobs.” 

By Nicholas Watt & Liz Rawlings

A number of Mr Raab’s former private secretaries – senior officials who work most closely with ministers on a daily basis – are preparing to submit formal complaints, sources told the BBC.

Mr Raab requested an investigation into his own conduct towards staff in the wake of two earlier complaints.

He denies any allegations of bullying.

Mr Raab, who is also the justice secretary, maintains he has always acted with integrity and professionalism.

There is now a coordinated effort by former private secretaries of Mr Raab to ensure their allegations are heard as part of the investigation.

Private secretaries work in the private office of government ministers on the day-to-day running of the department, including managing the minister’s diary and advising on policy matters.

Meanwhile, Newsnight has also been told that Mr Raab used his personal email account for government business at two separate departments – once as recently as 2021.

Officials issued multiple warnings to the deputy prime minister not to use his email in this way, a source said.

Mr Raab, however, believes that the way he has used private email does not amount to a breach of the ministerial code, which allows for it to be done in some circumstances.

A friend of Mr Raab said he had used it on occasions to approve tweets and quotes related to government business.

Suella Braverman resigned as home secretary last month in part after admitting a breach of the ministerial code involving use of her private email to share government documents.

Ms Braverman, who has since been reappointed to the role, said this should not be done “where it was not reasonably necessary”.

Dave Penman, chief executive of the FDA union which represents senior civil servants, said: “This is an extraordinary set of circumstances. We’ve never come across a situation where so many civil servants appear to be raising complaints about a minister’s conduct.

“So if they are serious allegations about his conduct, that the prime minister has seen, he has to make a decision – is it safe essentially for civil servants to continue to work with him? That’s what any employer would do.”

The government has appointed Adam Tolley KC to investigate two formal complaints made about Mr Raab’s conduct.

Downing Street said a report would be published “in a timely way”.

Any final judgement on whether Mr Raab was in breach of the ministerial code will remain with Mr Sunak.

Mr Raab has said he will “thoroughly rebut and refute any claims made”.