The PM's letter to Nadhim Zahawi

Governments should not "Mark their own homework" in respect of ethical decisions. Accordingly it is right that there should be an independent ethics advisor, that issues should be referred to him or her, and that the advice of the independent ethics advisor should be acted on.

I think it made sense for the PM to refer the case of former Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi to the ethics advisor and act on his recommendations.

This is the text of the letter which the PM sent this morning to Mr Zahawi after doing so. 

"The Right Honourable Nadhim Zahawi MP

Dear Nadhim,

When I became Prime Minister last year, I pledged that the Government I lead would have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.

That is why, following new information which came to light in recent days regarding your personal financial arrangements and declarations, I asked Sir Laurie Magnus, the Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests, to fully investigate this matter.

You agreed and undertook to cooperate fully with the inquiry.

Following the completion of the Independent Adviser's investigation - the findings of which he has shared with us both - it is clear that there has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code.

As a result, I have informed you of my decision to remove you from your position in His Majesty's Government.

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.

Your role was critical to ensuring our country came through this crisis and saved many lives.

And as the Conservative Party Chairman, you have undertaken significant restructuring to Conservative Campaign Headquarters and readied us for important work in the coming months.

It is also with pride that I, and previous Prime Ministers, have been able to draw upon the services of a Kurdish-born Iraqi refugee at the highest levels of the U.K. Government.

That is something which people up and down this country have rightly valued.

I know I will be able to count on your support from the backbenches as you continue to passionately and determinedly serve your constituents of Stratford-on-Avon and represent the many issues and campaigns you are dedicated to.

Thank you for your service to this and previous governments.

Yours sincerely,


The Right Honourable Rishi Sunak MP"


Gary Bullivant said…
But is Sir Laurie truly independent? Unlike other public appointments, such as chair of the BBC board for example, the current Adviser, and Lord Geidt before him, were truly handpicked following calls for volunteers from amongst frienda and allies. Of course the temptation with public appointments must be to pack the appointment panel with friends and allies.

Don't take my word for it. This from the previous Commissioner for Public Appointments.
Chris Whiteside said…
Peter Riddell makes a good point and this is something which would need scrutiny under this and any other government, but I note that he wasn't referring to the appointment of Sir Laurie Magnus.

And specifically on Sir Laurie, I don't think anyone who has read much of his report into Nadhim Zahawi would think he was showing a lack of independence.
Gary Bullivant said…
He wasn't referring to Magnus or Geidt because the generic comment was made in 2020. He subsequently remarked in a similar way on the appointment of James Wharton, Conservative MP donor Lord Wharton, to the chair of the Office of Students, where he was joined by the wife of Ben Houchen, a close associate. The Sunday Times elaborated on this only yesterday, mentioning Gavin Williamson. I believe we will read more of this sort of thing now that social media and investigative journalists can turn their attention to Richard Sharp.

I agree that, markedly unlike his predecessor, Sir Laurie has got off on the right foot with his first investigation but, equally, this case was so nailed on that to do otherwise would have brought scorn down on his head. Parts of the MSM had picked up on the NCA and HMRC investigations as long ago as 6 July of last year but there was no Adviser then and something else was going on that was much more interesting.

The Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests appointment, I believe, is independent because it falls outside the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, hence no public advert or panel. I'm afraid that even a casual glance at Sir Laurie's cv and business associations undermines the perception that he might be independent in the sense you use it.
Chris Whiteside said…
You can argue until the cows come home about what "Independent" should mean.

For the purpose of whether they properly fulfil the function of a given position, independent is as independent does.

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