Dominic Raab defended himself against bullying allegations and used his personal email for government business while Rishi Sunak continued to support his embattled deputy.
The deputy prime minister said he had always adhered to the ministerial code and had “behaved in a professional manner” when new allegations of bullying surfaced.
Downing Street said on Thursday the Prime Minister still had full confidence in him as a number of Raab’s former private secretaries were expected to lodge formal complaints against his conduct.
The allegations, if filed, could be included in the investigation into Mr. Raab ongoing in two formal complaints of bullying by senior solicitor Adam Tolley KC.
Mr Raab told the BBC: ‘I have always behaved in a professional manner and am the one who when the complaint came a few days ago, the first to come against me since I have been a minister since 2015, demanded an independent inquiry. and I look forward to dealing with it fully and transparently rather than dealing with anonymous media commentary.
“I always abide by the ministerial code, including the use of my iPhone.
“I have always been advised on the right means, particularly as Foreign Secretary and dealing with a whole range of sensitive issues, always being very careful to protect the integrity of any communications I have.”
A source confirmed that several senior officials who have worked closely with Raab were preparing to file the complaints, Newsnight first reported.
Liberal Democrat whip chief Wendy Chamberlain has called for an investigation after it also emerged that Mr Raab had been using her personal email account on government business.
The justice secretary’s allies insisted there were no ministerial code violations because he copied an appropriate government email address when prompted by the guide.
They also maintained that he was only using his personal account to approve tweets and quotes with his team on short notice.
But Ms Chamberlain said: ‘The public deserves answers, not more cover-ups.
“The Deputy Prime Minister cannot be relaxed about national security, especially at a time when Britain’s enemies are stepping up their cyberattacks.
“It is right and proper for the Cabinet Office to investigate these reports and determine immediately whether enemies overseas may have seen the national secrets sent by Dominic Raab.”
But Downing Street has backed Mr Raab and rejected suggestions that the investigation was a cover-up, despite Mr Sunak’s ability to dismiss his findings.
“It is a long-standing convention that the prime minister of the day is the arbiter of the (ministerial) code and the final decision maker on these kinds of matters,” the prime minister’s official spokesman said.
“The investigator who does this is very experienced and has the proper background and has access to everything he needs to conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation.”
The spokesperson also defended Mr Raab over his use of email after Newsnight shared allegations that he used his personal email account on government business in two different departments last year.
“Ministers are able to use various forms of communication,” he said.
“As long as they take that guidance into account, there is no binary restriction on the use of personal email addresses.”
Deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner said: “There must be no hint of whitewashing when it comes to the array of serious allegations the deputy prime minister now faces.
“The scope of this inquiry must be immediately expanded to allow for a proactive investigation into Dominic Raab’s behavior during his time as minister, including so-called expressions of concern, informal complaints and troubling testimony from his former permanent secretary.”