A former Conservative party chair has become one of the most senior Tory MPs to call for Dominic Raab to be suspended from his ministerial roles while he is investigated over allegations of bullying.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary is under mounting pressure from an investigation into his conduct towards staff.
Mr Raab faces at least eight formal accusations of bullying from staff while 24 civil servants have reportedly given evidence to the inquiry, The Guardian reports.
He has consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying in the House of Commons in November: "I am confident that I have behaved professionally throughout."
Jake Berry, who served as minister without portfolio and party chain in Liz Truss’s Cabinet, said it would be “very bizarre” for Mr Raab to remain in his ministerial roles during an investigation into his conduct.
Mr Berry told BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster that it would be “a big help” to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak if he was able to simply suspend a minister who was being investigated, as happens in the private sector.
Asked if he believed Mr Raab should be suspended, he said: “When you have 24 allegations outstanding against you – I read in the newspaper there are 24 – it would be very bizarre if you had someone in any other workplace who wasn’t suspended pending that investigation.
“MPs and ministers are not some form of special human being – I think they should just be treated like anyone else is in their workplace.”
Mr Sunak has appointed Adam Tolley KC, an outside lawyer, to investigate the complaints about Mr Raab. No date has been given for the completion of the inquiries.
The Prime Minister has insisted that he was not aware of any "formal complaints" about Mr Raab before he gave him the Cabinet roles in October.
The Times reported on Thursday that Simon Case, Britain’s most senior civil servant, was aware of a written complaint about Mr Raab’s conduct before his recent appointments.
On Friday the Prime minister’s spokesman did not deny a report that Mr Case was personally informed of a written allegation.
Asked if Mr Sunak is confident he is getting solid advice from his Cabinet Secretary, the spokesman said: “Yes, the Prime Minister has full confidence in Simon Case.”
According to Dave Penman, the general secretary of the union representing Whitehall officials, staff who were allegedly bullied “suffered mental health crises”.