Dominic Raab has denied bullying claims and he requested an investigation into himself following two formal complaints made against him after days of allegations.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, where he was standing in for Rishi Sunak who is at the G20 in Bali, Mr Raab said he is “confident that I have behaved professionally throughout”.
The deputy prime minister and justice secretary earlier wrote to Rishi Sunak asking for an independent investigation into two complaints, one regarding his time as foreign secretary and another while he was justice secretary under Boris Johnson.
“I look forward to addressing these complaints, and continuing to serve as deputy prime minister, justice secretary, and Lord Chancellor,” he tweeted.
Mr Sunak has agreed an investigation should take place and his spokesman said the PM “still has full confidence” in his deputy.
Over the past week, Mr Raab has faced bullying allegations in the media, including throwing tomatoes at staff, being rude to staff and being warned about his behaviour.
Asked several times about the allegations during PMQs, Mr Raab said: “I am confident that I have behaved professionally throughout.
“But immediately I heard that two complaints had been made – I believe they were made yesterday, I was notified this morning – I immediately asked the prime minister to set up an independent investigation. And of course, I will comply with the investigation fully.”
He added: “It is important we have zero tolerance for any bullying.”
Asked about whether he threw a tomato at a staff member, Mr Raab said: “That never happened.”
Mr Sunak’s spokesman said an independent investigator, who is not from the civil service, will be appointed to lead the probe – but the PM will not be obligated to accept the findings of the final report.
Mr Raab was asked by Labour MP Bambos Charalambous if he had “ever entered into a non-disclosure agreement connected to a complaint against him”.
The deputy PM said: “He’s referring to an employment dispute before I entered the House.
“It wasn’t an NDA but it did involve a confidentiality clause, which was standard at the time.”
In his letter to Mr Sunak, the deputy PM said he had “just been notified that two separate complaints have formally been made against me”.
He did not say what the complaints were about and who had made them.
But he requested an investigation into the complaints “as soon as possible” and said he will “cooperate fully and respect whatever outcome you decide”.
He added: “I have always sought to set high standards, and forge teams that can deliver for the British people amidst the acute challenges that we have faced in recent years.
“I have never tolerated bullying, and always sought to reinforce and empower the teams of civil servants working in my respective departments.”
Read more: The allegations against Dominic Raab
Mr Sunak replied to his deputy’s letter and said he agreed to address the complaints against him.
“Integrity, professionalism and accountability are core values of this government. It is right that these matters are investigated fully,” he said.
The chair of the FDA civil servants union, Dave Penman, told Sky News on Tuesday there were allegations against several other current ministers but staff are not making official complaints as the system does not support them.
Labour’s Lisa Nandy, who was shadow foreign secretary while Mr Raab was foreign secretary, told Sky News it was an “open secret” bullying was going on in his office. Mr Raab’s spokesman denied the allegations.