Bullying Accusations Against Health Secretary Steve Barclay Amid ‘Open Season on Ministers’

Tensions rise as civil servants reportedly target ministers following Dominic Raab’s resignation

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been accused of bullying Department of Health and Social Care staff, leading a senior civil servant to claim that it is now “open season on ministers”. The allegations come in the wake of former Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab’s resignation over similar complaints.

Since taking up the role last summer, Barclay has reportedly exhibited “bad behaviour” towards staff. Sources close to the Health Secretary, however, maintain that “there’s been no complaint at any department he’s worked in” and that the allegation is “completely untrue”. Despite this, health department officials have reportedly “raised concerns” with Chris Wormald, the department’s permanent secretary, after receiving informal complaints from civil servants.


Friends and ex-colleagues of Barclay have dismissed the allegations, suggesting that civil servants are inspired to target ministers they don’t like. This follows Raab’s resignation after an investigation found evidence of bullying. The situation has led to increased scrutiny of the Government, as predicted by the Mail just five days ago.

Sources have described Barclay as a “micro-manager”, “constantly angry”, and “quite challenging”. The Daily Mail reports that one source characterised Barclay’s style as “very macho”, claiming he is “a bit unpleasant”. However, a senior civil servant who worked with Barclay in the Cabinet Office stated, “I do not recognise any of these allegations, he was always professional. He set high standards but he was running a Government department.” Another civil servant reportedly referred to the situation as “open season on ministers”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended Barclay, describing him as “effective” and “tough”, and arguing that equating this with bullying is “absurd”. He also suggested that Raab’s departure has emboldened civil servants to target a government they dislike.

No formal complaints have been received about ministers’ behaviour, according to the Health Department. The recent bullying allegations against Steve Barclay have further strained relations between civil servants and ministers following Dominic Raab’s resignation.

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