Mon, 27 May 2024

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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
Press releases

Rishi Sunak To Be Investigated By Commons Watchdog Over Possible Failure To Declare An Interest

The standards commissioner is investigating the prime minister over a possible failure to declare an interest (Alamy)

3 min read

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is being investigated by the Commons Standards Commissioner over whether he failed to properly declare an interest.

The commissioner announced on Monday that they are investigating a possible failure by the prime minister to declare an interest, which is thought to be related to his wife's shares in a childcare agency.

Sunak has been criticised for not mentioning his wife's involvement in a company which benefitted from a pilot of incentive payments for new childminders in the Spring Budget, as reported by the i newspaper.

Akshata Murthy is a shareholder in the agency Koru Kids – a link Sunak did not mention when questioned by MPs last month, while the agency is one of six private providers being consulted on the pilot scheme. 

This interest was not listed by Sunak in his most-recently published registers of members’ or ministerial interests.

The PM has written to the Liaison Committee to say he did declare his family's link to Koru Kids to the Cabinet Office in the proper way, however.

In the letter to the committee, Sunak wrote: "I note that there has been some media coverage relating to the minority stake my wife has in relation to the company Koru Kids.

"I was being asked questions by the Committee in my capacity as Prime Minister. I would like to clarify for the Parliamentary record that this interest has rightly been declared to the Cabinet Office."

In response, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has called for Sunak's register of interests to be published ahead of the May local elections.

"This government's failure to update the rules or publish a register of ministers' interests in nearly a year has left a transparency black hole which is enabling the Prime Minister and those he has appointed to dodge proper scrutiny of their affairs," she said.

"If Rishi Sunak has got nothing to hide, he should commit to publishing the register before May's elections so the public can see for themselves.

"While this prime minister fails to deliver the integrity he promised and preserves the rotten standards regime he inherited as the Tories resist tighter rules, Labour has a plan to clean up politics with an Independent Ethics and Integrity Commission to restore standards in public life."

The Liberal Democrats previously called for an investigation into the matter.

In reaction to the news that the prime minister is under investigation, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said: "Another day and another accusation of a Conservative Prime Minister bending the rules. 

"This is on the same day that Rishi Sunak may have broken election rules for his government announcement today.

"After months of Conservative sleaze and scandal, the public just want a government which is focused on the country, rather than saving their own skin."

The Lib Dems wrote to the cabinet secretary on Monday to demand an investigation into whether the government has "ignored" pre-election rules on policy announcements with Sunak's speech on expanding maths education. Local elections are taking place across England on 4 May.

Responding to the standard commissioner's announcement, No 10 spokesperson said: "We are happy to assist the Commissioner to clarify how this has been transparently declared as a Ministerial interest."

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