Dominic Raab has insisted he has “conducted himself professionally at all times” despite mounting allegations of bullying and intimidating behaviour.
Yesterday, a number of the deputy minister’s former private secretaries told the BBC they were preparing to lodge formal complaints about his behaviour.
Newsnight was told that too Mr Raab used his personal email account for public companies in two separate departments — once as recently as 2021.
But Mr Raab said: “I have always complied with the Ministerial Act, including the use of my iPhone.”
He added that he had “always been careful to protect the integrity of any communication” he has.
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Asked if he had been informed that several senior officials who worked most closely with him on a day-to-day basis had lodged complaints, Mr Raab said: “I have conducted myself professionally at all times.
“And I am the one who, when the complaint came a few days ago, the first that had ever come against me since I have been a minister since 2015, [I] called for an independent investigation and I look forward to dealing with it fully and transparently rather than dealing with anonymous comments in the media.
“I have always complied with ministerial law, including my use of my iPhone.”
Asked how this did not involve a breach of the Ministerial Act, the deputy minister replied: “It’s very clear, I took advice on that. I’m sure.”
Quizzed on reports that senior officials told him not to use his personal phone for public business, Mr. Raab dismissed the claims as “anonymous speculation.”
He added that he had “always taken advice” on how to communicate and, when asked why he used his personal phone for some things, replied that it was “perfectly legitimate and in line with the guidance we have”.
“I have not breached the Ministerial Act, I am sure, in any of the ways you claim,” Mr Raab said.
Earlier today, Downing Street said Rishi Sunak still had full confidence in his deputy despite the new allegations.
If lodged, the allegations by the former private secretaries could form part of the investigation into Raab, which was carried out following two formal complaints of bullying by senior counsel Adam Tolley KC.
Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner has called for Mr Tolley’s inquiry to be “immediately expanded”.
Raab denies all allegations of bullying against himbut last week asked the Prime Minister to launch an investigation into his own conduct.
If the deputy minister is found to have broken the ministerial act, he may be forced to resign.
Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain has demanded an investigation into Mr Raab’s use of his personal email account for public companies.
“It is only right and proper that the Cabinet Office investigates these reports and immediately determines whether overseas enemies could have seen national secrets sent by Dominic Raab,” she said.
But Downing Street backed Mr Raab and rejected suggestions the inquiry would be a whitewash, despite Mr Sunak’s ability to deny its findings.
The spokesman also defended Raab over his email use, telling reporters: “Ministers are able to use different forms of communication.
“As long as they take that guidance into account, there is not a binary restriction on the use of personal email addresses.”