An inquiry into alleged bullying by Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab is set to open immediately after a senior labor lawyer has been appointed to lead the inquiry.
Downing Street said attorney Adam Tolley KC will be able to interview potential witnesses and have access to documents related to the case, including emails and WhatsApp messages.
And he will be able to speak to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about expanding the scope of the investigation as new allegations emerge.
Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said Mr Tolley’s findings will be released in full. It will be up to the solicitor to decide whether to make sanctions recommendations if he decides against Mr Raab, but the Prime Minister will have the final say on any punishment, which could involve dismissal from government.
Mr. Tolley has a commercial and employment practice at Fountain Court Chambers and has represented a number of office clients in cases involving allegations of harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
In 2012, he appeared for an unnamed security agency defending sexual harassment allegations made by a secret agent who claimed she was “blacklisted” after complaining that she was being harassed by her boss became.
He represented King Charles in a number of lawsuits against his household as Prince of Wales, including successfully defending a case in 2005 alleging sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal by a former secretary. He has also appeared before labor appeals courts for the Department of Defense and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The Justice Secretary has vowed to “thoroughly refute and refute” two official complaints he is already facing, one from his previous tenure at the Justice Department and the other from his time as Foreign Secretary.
However, further allegations of bullying behavior have surfaced in the press and reports suggest other officers may consider making grievances about his actions.
Mr Raab asked Mr Sunak to order an inquiry after formal complaints were made on November 16, but the launch was delayed by a week while an investigator was hired.
Normally, such an inquiry would be conducted by Downing Street’s independent adviser on ministerial ethics. But the post has been vacant since Lord Geidt resigned in June in protest at Boris Johnson’s apparent willingness to break the law.
Mr Sunak has promised to appoint an independent adviser but no candidate has been named.
No timetable has been set for Mr Tolley’s inquest but it is believed he will report by Christmas. Downing Street said its report would be released “in good time” but would not commit to immediate release.
The KC will provide an account of the incident related to the alleged bullying and may give Mr Sunak “advice” on how to respond in relation to possible violations of the ministry’s code of conduct or labor law, No. 10 said.
But as the Code’s final arbiter, it will be up to Mr. Sunak himself whether to fire his deputy or face a lesser punishment, such as an apology.
Mr Sunak’s spokesman said Mr Tolley “will be given access to any information he wishes to see” while he conducts his investigation.