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According to the Ministerial Code, the Government must ensure a list detailing the interests held by ministers is published ‘twice yearly’ – but the Cabinet Office and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have failed to abide by this rule.
The latest available list was published in May 2022, which was the only list of ministerial interests published last year. A previous list was made available in November 2021.
We believe the Government’s failure to to publish the list twice in each calendar year is unlawful and we intend to take action. This week, we have written to the Cabinet Office and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and asked that:
We’ve given the Government 14 days to respond and, depending on the outcome, formal legal action may follow. You can read the full letter here.
There is vital public interest in the list being published in a timely manner.
Recent revelations have highlighted the implications of a failure to properly prepare and publish the list. For example, there was the potential conflict of interest arising from the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s appointment of Richard Sharp as BBC Chairman (from whom he reportedly received financial advice and facilitated a financial loan). That only came to light because the story appeared in a national newspaper.
The importance of this issue was illustrated recently when it was revealed the former Conservative Party Chairman and Minister Nadhim Zahawi had breached the Ministerial Code for failing to declare that he was subject of an ongoing HMRC investigation.
The failure to properly prepare and publish the list prevents public scrutiny of such incidents, and further undermines public trust in the transparency of government as well as public confidence that similar incidents will not reoccur or are not ongoing.
We hope the Government will take a sensible approach and commit to publishing the information.
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