Health Secretary Steve Barclay dismissed allegations about his conduct, insisting that he worked constructively with officials and had not received any complaints about his behaviour.
The Health Secretary has become the latest member of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet to face bullying allegations, with officials from his department reportedly having spoken privately of “bad behaviour”.
The Guardian quoted Whitehall sources as saying Mr Barclay regularly “blasted” staff and on occasions “deliberately ignored” colleagues who tried to talk to him.
But Mr Barclay told reporters: “Well, no complaints were raised with me.
He said that over the course of the weekend ministers and senior officials were “working very closely together” on issues including the NHS pay dispute and the evacuation of NHS medics from Sudan.
“So we’re working constructively together,” he said. “That’s what I’m focused on.”
The Guardian’s report said civil servants had informally complained to Chris Wormald, the Department of Health and Social Care’s permanent secretary, about the way they believe they and colleagues have been treated by Mr Barclay.
They said senior civil servants in the department had privately referred to “bullying” and other “bad behaviour” by Mr Barclay towards his staff since he joined the Whitehall department in July last year.
In the wake of the claims about Mr Barclay’s conduct, Downing Street said ministers must be able to “robustly” challenge civil servants.
Officials denied Rishi Sunak has ever been made aware of concerns – either formal or informal – about Mr Barclay’s behaviour.
The claims about Mr Barclay emerged in the wake of Dominic Raab’s resignation as deputy prime minister after an investigation found he had behaved in a way that “undermines or humiliates” while foreign secretary and criticised the work of civil servant staff as “woeful” and “utterly useless” while justice secretary.