The investigation into claims Dominic Raab bullied staff has led to a “complete breakdown” in trust between ministers and civil servants, a think tank has said.
Alex Thomas, programme director at the Institute for Government, said the inquiry has exposed “deep flaws” in the process for handling poor ministerial behaviour and that raising a complaint is still seen as “a sure-fire way to end a civil service career”.
Reacting to the report published by Adam Tolley on Friday, Mr Thomas said: “(The) system can only function if there is a high level of trust between politicians and the officials who serve them.
“The Raab mess has meant a complete breakdown, with leaks and acrimony amongst all parties, ending a ministerial career and leaving officials disillusioned and in some cases traumatised.”
“That is the reason it took a co-ordinated group of junior staff to make a complaint: not a conspiracy but a systemic problem.”
Mr Tolley’s report, which found Mr Raab “intimidated” and “humiliated” staff, has been condemned by several Conservative MPs while the former justice secretary himself said it had set a “low” threshold for bullying.
Former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg described complaints against Mr Raab as “snowflakery” in an interview with GB News.
Junior whip Joy Morrissey tweeted: “Sadly, we now live in a country where the definition of bullying includes telling someone to do their job. Where the slightest upset or annoyance is indulged with endless reports and inquiries.
“Where whining, taking offence and narcissistic victimhood have become the defining characteristics of our times – as the uncomplaining and silent majority look on in disbelief…”
The row is the latest flashpoint in a row between MPs and civil servants, in which the former have accused the latter of trying to frustrate the Government.
In March, Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands apologised for an email sent to Tory supporters claiming civil servants were part of a “left-wing activist blob” working against efforts to stop small boats crossing the Channel.
Similarly, Mr Raab told the BBC on Friday that “activist civil servants” had worked against him to block reforms.
Conservative MPs were criticised by the chairwoman of the union branch representing MPs’ staff, who said their comments were a “worrying indicator” of attitudes towards bullying in Westminster.
Jenny Symmons, chairwoman of the GMB branch for Members’ Staff, said: “Politicians reserve the right to (mis)treat their staff however they please and they loathe being held to account for it.
“Seeing Conservative MPs flock to defend Raab and ridicule his complainants is a worrying indicator of how they treat their own staff in Parliament. There is never any justification for bullying and GMB is here to support and protect MPs’ staff of any political party.”