RISHI Sunak broke the MPs’ code of conduct, after Number 10 publicly confirmed details about a parliamentary standards watchdog probe into his failure to correctly declare his wife Akshata Murty’s financial interest in a childminding company.
The Commons Standards Committee found that it was a “minor and inadvertent” rule breach, after Standards Commissioner Daniel Greenberg found that the Prime Minister had broken rule 13 of the MPs’ code of conduct.
The rule forbids parliamentarians from disclosing details of “any investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards except when required by law to do so, or authorised by the Commissioner”.
It comes after Downing Street provided a statement to the media that contained details of Greenberg’s probe earlier this year into concerns Sunak did not detail his wife’s shares in a childcare agency that benefited from the Budget.
“Whilst it was open to the media to speculate, when Sunak’s spokesman confirmed to the media that the inquiry related to Sunak’s ‘links to a childcare firm in which his wife is an investor’ he disclosed details about my inquiry,” Greenberg said.
The Standards Committee stopped short of recommending any sanction against the Prime Minister, given the nature of the rule breach.
In an 18-page report published on Thursday, it found: “This was a minor and inadvertent breach of the Code. Mr Sunak’s staff should not have issued any statement about the details of the case under investigation, without the approval of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
“The Commissioner has made clear that it had no impact on his inquiry. Nevertheless, it constitutes a breach that should not have occurred. However, Mr Sunak acknowledges that with hindsight he would have followed a different course of action.
“We would remind the Prime Minister, and all mnisters, like all other MPs, that it is their responsibility, as individuals, to ensure that such breaches do not occur.”