Watchdog extends investigation into claims over PM’s declaration of interests
Parliament’s standards watchdog has expanded the inquiry into Rishi Sunak’s potential breach of the rules on declaring financial interests.
The Prime Minister is also being investigated over whether he broke the MPs’ code of conduct relating to disclosing details surrounding active inquiries, it emerged on Monday.
Standards commissioner Daniel Greenberg opened the inquiry following concerns that Mr Sunak did not detail his wife’s shares in a childcare agency that benefited from the Budget.
Mr Sunak declared Akshata Murty’s stake in Koru Kids in the ministerial register of interests after he failed to mention it when being questioned by an MP on the Liaison Committee.
Now Mr Greenberg has added a second strand to his inquiry, under rules forbidding MPs to “disclose details” in relation to any investigation he is undertaking without consent.
Downing Street defended its approach, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman saying they had only “pointed to what has been said previously” in public remarks.
The commissioner opened the investigation under rules that MPs must be “open and frank” when declaring their interests last week.
No 10 responded at the time by saying: “We are happy to assist the commissioner to clarify how this has been transparently declared as a ministerial interest.”
Separately a Downing Street source confirmed the investigation was regarding the shares in the Koru Kids agency.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Budget last month included incentive payments for childminders joining the profession.
Under questioning on why the sum doubles to £1,200 if workers sign up through agencies, Mr Sunak was asked by Labour MP Catherine McKinnell if he had any interests to declare.
“No, all my disclosures are declared in the normal way,” Mr Sunak said.
Meanwhile, Mr Greenberg also opened an investigation into Scott Benton under rules prohibiting MPs from causing “significant damage to the reputation and integrity” of the Commons.
He lost the Tory whip after being secretly filmed offering to lobby ministers on behalf of gambling industry investors in exchange for financial reward.
Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain was granted an urgent question to ask the Commons on Monday if Mr Sunak will make a statement on the register of ministerial interests and the ministerial code.
It comes after Dominic Raab resigned as deputy prime minister in the wake of an official inquiry which found he acted in an intimidating and aggressive way with officials.
Downing Street has not set out whether the Prime Minister will respond to the question personally.
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