Senior Whitehall officials have told ITV News that they decided not to make formal complaints about Dominic Raab after seeing Priti Patel face no serious sanctions despite being found guilty of bullying.
Sources said Boris Johnson's decision to effectively clear the former Home Secretary, despite serious findings, had a "chilling effect" on the civil service.
Two formal complaints were only made after allegations about the justice secretary and deputy prime minister emerged in the media, and the PM urged those making allegations to come forward confidentially.
Those two complaints are now part of an investigation led by Adam Tolley KC - and it is my understanding that others are seriously considering following suit. In fact, I hear that there may already be submissions with the Cabinet office.
Once they have been shared with Downing Street, they could be added to the investigation's remit.
When I asked one senior official why complaints weren't raised formally, they messaged: "After Priti was given a free pass, we all knew that ministers now had a free pass for whatever conduct they like."
Another said they didn't feel they could complain because of the "Patel decision" arguing they were "terrified of him remaining in post".
A third said: "Almost no one makes a formal complaint because it is career-ending".
It came as ITV News spoke to several individuals who have worked with Mr Raab's in various roles - giving a mixed picture. Some were clear that they felt he was guilty of bullying - describing demeaning and rude behaviour, others said he was a hard taskmaster who expected the best of himself and his team.
Some have claimed that the PM must have been aware of concerns that had been informally shared with the Cabinet office but others claimed that only formal complaints were taken to the top by the government's propriety and ethics team.
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