No.10 denies Sunak broke rules  


Downing Street has denied Rishi Sunak had broken any rules by failing to mention his wife Akshata Murty’s shareholding in a childcare business…reports Asian Lite News

The Prime Minister did not declare Murty’s investment in Koru Kids when he was quizzed about his £4billion boost for the childcare sector at this month’s Budget.

She is listed as a shareholder in the London-based agency in Companies House documents as recently as March 6 this year.

Koru Kids is set to benefit from the major shake-up of the childcare sector by Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. The PM’s failure to notify MPs of his wife’s interest has led to demands for Sunak’s ethics adviser, Sir Laurie Magnus, to launch an investigation.

But No10 this afternoon dismissed any suggestion the PM had breached ministerial or parliamentary rules in neglecting to mention Murty’s shareholding.

The PM’s press secretary said, “The Ministerial Code sets out a process by which ministers declare their interests. “’They do that in writing, in this case to the Cabinet Secretary. That process was followed to the letter by the Prime Minister. He declared the interest in the usual way – he followed the process.”

The PM’s press secretary insisted Sunak was also happy he had abided by Parliamentary obligations on declaring financial interests when answering questions from fellow MPs.

Murty’s shareholding in Koru Kids emerged after the PM was yesterday quizzed by senior MPs on the Commons liaison committee about the Government’s new childcare package.

At the recent Budget, Hunt announced incentive payments of £600 for childminders joining the profession, a sum that doubles to £1,200 if they sign up through an agency.

Labour MP Catherine McKinnell on Tuesday questioned Sunak as to why the Budget was handing out a double bonus for childminders signing up through private agencies.

Asked by McKinnell if he had any interest to declare, Sunak replied, “No, all my disclosures are declared in the normal way. I think it’s a reflection of the fact that they are through intermediaries so there are additional costs. And, ultimately, we want to make sure the policy is effective in bringing additional people into the system.”

Sunak added he would ‘happily write back’ to the committee on ‘exactly what conversations were had and the rationale’. Koru Kids is one of six childminder agencies listed on the Government’s website.

The firm welcomed the Budget announcement on its website and hailed the ‘great’ new incentives open to childminders.

Sunak aware of security review at Indian mission

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is aware of India’s security concerns following violent clashes at its mission in London and a security review is underway, Downing Street said on Thursday.

The security review was announced by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in a statement last week following windows being smashed and the tricolour being attacked by pro-Khalistan flag-waving protesters at India House.

The UK Foreign Office has since been leading on this review of the security at the diplomatic mission, along with the Metropolitan Police.

“Discussions are being led by the Foreign Office with our police in the UK and our Indian counterparts. The Prime Minister hasn’t been involved directly but he is aware of them [discussions],” Prime Minister Sunak’s spokesperson told PTI at a Downing Street briefing.

Asked if the issue is likely to impact the ongoing India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, which are now in their eighth round of talks, the spokesperson added: “The two issues are unconnected and the trade talks with India continue. Both sides want to see an enhanced relationship between our two countries.

“On security, we expressed our concerns about the scenes we saw outside the High Commission and a review is underway.” It came as the latest set of protests outside India House in London are expected over three days until Saturday, with a demonstration also planned outside the Indian Consulate in Birmingham on Sunday.

There has been a very visible Met Police presence around the Indian High Commission in London since the violent disorder on March 19, with protesters now confined behind barricades across the street from the mission premises.

During a planned demonstration there last Wednesday, protesters hurled coloured flares and water bottles towards the mission. They have since taken to social media to allege that the objects were hurled by the Indian mission instead, allegations which have been countered by India House.

India had registered a strong protest with the UK government and the issue was also raised in the House of Commons.

It followed UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s statement to condemn the “unacceptable” acts of violence and an assurance to conduct a security review.

“We will always take the security of the High Commission, and all foreign missions in the UK, extremely seriously, and prevent and robustly respond to incidents such as this,” said Cleverly.

Meanwhile, government ministers have also been holding talks with Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami to reiterate plans to review the security measures at India House.

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