Nadhim Zahawi: Labour Party chair responds to tax scandal
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The Prime Minister has fired Conservative chair Nadhim Zahawi over a breach of the ministerial code.
The Government announced today that Rishi Sunak had sacked Mr Zahawi following controversy surrounding his tax affairs.
A letter from Mr Sunak communicating his decision was released this morning, explaining the decision came following a “serious breach” of Government rules.
In the letter, the Prime Minister said following a brief investigation, it was “clear that there has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code”.
He wrote: “As a result, I have informed you of my decision to remove you from your position in His Majesty’s Government.”
Mr Sunak added: “When I became Prime Minister last year, I pledged that the Government I lead would have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.”
He paid tribute to Mr Zahawi’s contribution to the Government, including his role as vaccines minister during the pandemic.
“As you leave, you should be extremely proud of your wide-ranging achievements in Government over the last five years.
“In particular, your successful oversight of the Covid-19 vaccine procurement and deployment programme which ensured the United Kingdom was at the forefront of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Prime Minister concluded: “I know I will be able to count on your support from the backbenchers as you continue to passionately and determinedly serve your constituents of Stratford-Upon-Avon and represent the many issue sand campaigns you are dedicated.
“Thank you for your service to this and previous Governments.”
The sacking follows more than a week of pressure on the Prime Minister following reports that Mr Zahawi had paid millions in a penalty settlement with HMRC after the department opened an investigation into his tax affairs.
Mr Sunak had commissioned Sir Laurie Magnus, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests, to investigate whether the Tory chair had broken the ministerial code.
Sir Laurie handed in his report on January 29, writing that, “by failing to declare HMRC’s ongoing investigation before July 2022” Mr Zahawi “failed to meet the requirement to declare any interests which might be thought to give rise to a conflict”.
He added: “I also conclude that, in the appointments process for the governments formed in September 2022 and October 2022, Mr Zahawi failed to disclose relevant information – in this case the nature of the investigation and its outcome in a penalty – at the time of his appointment, including to Cabinet Office officials who support that process.
“Without knowledge of that information, the Cabinet Office was not in a position to inform the appointing Prime Minister.
“Taken together, I consider that these omissions constitute a serious failure to meet the standards set out in the ministerial code.”
Sir Laurie concluded: “I consider that Mr Zahawi, in holding the high privilege of being a Minister of the Crown, has shown insufficient regard for the General Principles of the Ministerial Code and the requirements in particular, under the seven Principles of Public Life, to be honest, open and an exemplary leader through his own behaviour.”
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