Dominic Raab’s position as Deputy Prime Minister is in the balance as Rishi Sunak considers the findings of a long-awaited report into bullying allegations.
Downing Street said the Prime Minister is carefully considering the report, from senior lawyer Adam Tolley KC, which was handed to No 10 on Thursday morning.
Mr Sunak’s previous expression of having “full confidence” in Mr Raab “still stands”, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
Mr Raab was investigated over eight formal complaints about his behaviour as foreign secretary, Brexit secretary and during his first stint as justice secretary.
Downing Street would not indicate when the report will be published but insisted a resolution will be sought “as swiftly as possible”.
While there was no formal role for Mr Sunak’s ethics tsar Sir Laurie Magnus in the investigation, the Prime Minister could consult him before delivering his verdict on Mr Raab -though such conversations are usually kept private.
Sir Laurie had not been appointed as the independent adviser on ministers’ interests when the investigation into Mr Raab was launched.
Mr Sunak is the ultimate arbiter on issues around ministerial conduct and the final decision on his close ally Mr Raab will rest with him.
One person involved in the process described the review as “devastating”, while a senior Government official said Mr Raab is “toast”, according to the Financial Times.
The Guardian said senior Ministry of Justice officials could quit if Mr Raab, who is also Justice Secretary, is cleared of the allegations.
A decision not to sanction him would be “demoralising” for staff in the department, a source told the paper.
The minister funded his own legal team to defend against the allegations, it emerged on Wednesday.
The declaration in the heavily delayed register of ministerial interests came despite taxpayers footing an estimated £222,000 bill for former prime minister Boris Johnson’s legal fees in the partygate inquiry into whether he lied to MPs.
In the register, Mr Raab’s entry notes read: “The minister has engaged lawyers at his own expense in relation to the investigation being 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 engaged legal representation.
Mr Raab remained at work on Thursday morning, responding to Crown Prosecution Service statistics on rape cases.
He issued a tweet and statement on the issue in his role as Justice Secretary.