Rishi Sunak broke the MPs’ code of conduct by failing to correctly declare his wife’s financial interest in a childminding company which was set to benefit from Government policy, the Commons’ standards commissioner has said.
Daniel Greenberg concluded the breach arose out of the Prime Minister’s “confusion” around the rules on declaration, and decided to close the inquiry without the need for further action after finding the error to have been made inadvertently.
The standards commissioner opened the inquiry in April 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.
Mr Greenberg said: “In accordance with the Code, Ms Murty’s shareholding was a relevant interest that should have been declared during the Liaison Committee meeting on 28 March 2023.”
The standards commissioner said he was satisfied that Mr Sunak had “confused” the concept of registration relating to arrangements for ministers with the concept of declaration of interests under the code of conduct for MPs.
“I formed the view that the failure to declare arose out of this confusion and was accordingly inadvertent on the part of Mr Sunak,” the standards commissioner concluded.
Mr Greenberg said: “During a meeting with Mr Sunak on 30 June 2023 I acknowledged that he may not have been aware of Ms Murty’s shareholding at the time of the Liaison Committee meeting, but he had a duty to correct the record.
“However, Mr Sunak was aware of the interest when he subsequently wrote to the chair of the Liaison Committee, Sir Bernard Jenkin MP, on 4 April 2023, and he failed to declare the interest at that stage or correct the record.”
In a letter to the commissioner, Mr Sunak said: “Should this scenario arise again, I have acknowledged that I have a duty to write to the Committee after my appearance to correct the record.
“I accept and once again apologise that my letter to the Liaison Committee on 4 April 2023 was not sufficiently expansive, as it confused the language of registration and declaration.”