DOMINIC Raab’s successor has distanced himself from the former deputy Prime Minister’s claim that “activist” civil servants ousted him with trumped-up bullying claims.

Oliver Dowden, who replaced Mr Raab as Rshi Sunak’s right hand man on Friday, said he had experienced “frustrations” with officials, but ultimately worked constructively with them. 

Mr Raab quit as deputy PM and Justice Secretary after Adam Tolley KC’s report into his conduct in three departments found bullying behaviour.

Mr Raab, who had promised to go if that was the outcome of the five-month report, was found to have been “intimidating” and “aggressive” to staff. 

However Mr Raab vehemently defended his conduct, and warned setting the bar for bullying so low set a “dangerous precedent” and could lead to “spurious complaints against ministers”.

He told The Sun On Sunday he was the victim of a “co-ordinated” and “politicised attack”, with officials allegedly “storing up” complaints over almost five years before submitting them.

Appearing on BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, Mr Dowden was asked if he had seen civil servants trying to block government, as Ms Raab claimed some did.

Mr Dowden did not endorse his predecessor’s view, but said: “We all have different working styles.

“What I would not want to be the outcome of this is that there is some kind of diminution in the ability of ministers to expect the highest standards because in the end senior civil servants and senior ministers are united in their goal of serving the British people.

“I do think that out of the report, there is a need to look at our processes around that and that's why we will be looking at it to see whether we can make it simpler and fairer and less complaints.”

Asked if he believed Mr Raab, he said: “It has not been my experience working with civil servants that we can't work together in a constructive way. I haven't experienced that. 

“However I of course, have experienced frustrations. We all have experienced frustrations.

“Because in the end, we are passionate about delivering for the British people.

“And by the way that's not just ministers of this political colour.  Top ministers across the years, worked very hard to try and serve the British people in the best way that they think possible. And in my experience, most civil servants are committed to doing that.”

Meanwhile the Tory peer leading a Government review into how the Civil Service operates has suggested greater “politicisation” could create a more “robust culture” in Whitehall.

Writing in The Observer, Lord Maude said that without change there will would more cases like Mr Raab’s in which “frustrations boil over”.

Arguing ministers could be given more say in appointing civil servants, the former Cabinet Office minister said: “We need a much more robust culture, with less groupthink, more rugged disagreement, and the confidence to both offer challenge and to accept it.

“In France, permanent civil servants often have overt political affiliations, and it causes few problems. In Australia, permanent civil servants in ministers’ private offices are released from the obligations of political impartiality, and can take part in party political activity. We don’t need to go that far, but the key, as always, is transparency and pragmatism.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, whose party hopes to overturn Mr Raab’s 2,743-vote majority in his Surrey seat of Esher & Walton, said his candidate would “defeat” him at the next election.

He told Sky News that if Mr Raab wasn’t prepared to stand down as an MP and trigger a byelection, the Government should withdraw the whip from him “otherwise they’re sending a message that bullying is somehow OK in the Conservative Party”.