Former Conservative Party leader Sir Jake Berry has lashed out at Westminster’s “outdated” complaints-handling system, which has allowed Dominic Raab to continue his job during the investigation.
Amid reports the scrutiny of the deputy prime minister’s behavior could be published as early as Thursday, Sir Jake said it was “wrong” for Mr Raab to continue his job while he faces allegations of bullying.
Sir Jake, who has served in both Boris Johnson’s and Theresa May’s cabinets, said on ITV’s Peston Show on Wednesday night: “It seems to me quite wrong that people who are the subject of inquiries of this nature continue in their job.”
He added: “Whatever the outcome, and we’ll find out tomorrow, I actually think there needs to be a fundamental rethink of how we deal with these types of allegations, both in government against ministers and against MPs .
“It’s a massively outdated system that our constituents wouldn’t expect from any of us.”
Sir Jake’s comments come amid reports senior Justice Department officials could resign if Mr Raab, who is also Justice Secretary, is cleared of the allegations.
A decision not to sanction him would be “demoralizing” for staff at the department, the Guardian quoted a source as saying.
A person involved in the process described the review as “devastating”, while a senior government official said Mr Raab was a “toast”, according to the Financial Times.
Mr Raab has been under investigation for months over eight formal complaints about his behavior as Foreign Secretary, Brexit Secretary and during his first term as Justice Secretary.
The outcome of the long-running investigation is expected shortly, with reports it could be a matter of hours before the review by Adam Tolley KC is released.
The deputy prime minister has insisted he believes “heart and soul” that he is not a bully, but has defended his “open” approach to his work.
Lead counsel Mr Tolley is said to have conducted the investigation “thoroughly” after interviewing Mr Raab on numerous occasions and speaking to or receiving written evidence from a number of others.
Earlier on Wednesday, it emerged that the minister had deployed his own legal team to defend himself against the allegations.
The declaration in the much-delayed Register of Ministers’ Interests comes despite the taxpayer paying an estimated £222,000 bill for Boris Johnson’s legal fees in the Partygate inquiry into whether he lied to MPs.
Mr Raab’s entry on the register read: “The Minister has engaged, at his own expense, solicitors in relation to the investigations conducted by Adam Tolley KC.”
Mr Tolley was appointed in November to lead the investigation into Mr Raab’s conduct but it is not known when Mr Raab first sought legal counsel.
It remains unclear why he paid for his own lawyers when Mr Johnson – whose outside earnings since leaving office have made him the highest-paid MP in the last 12 months – received government support.
Mr Raab’s team did not respond to the reports on Wednesday, aside from saying it would be inappropriate to comment on the investigation before it is complete.