Zahawi had issued a statement on 21 January which attempted to clarify his tax affairs, including a settlement he paid to HMRC last year…reports Asian Lite News
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak dismisses Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi following the independent ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus submitted his report.
The prime minister says it is “clear that there has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code.” The prime minister ordered an investigation into Zahawi’s tax affairs after it emerged Zahawi paid a penalty to HMRC while he was chancellor, over previously unpaid tax. He was under pressure to fully explain the multi-million pound settlement.
Zahawi said when HMRC started asking questions he was under the impression he was “merely being asked certain queries by HMRC concerning his tax affairs.” But Sir Laurie found that Zahawi “should have understood at the outset that they were under investigation by HMRC and that this was a serious matter.”
Sir Laurie says Zahawi should have updated his declaration of interests form to reflect the investigation.
The PM got the report from his ethics adivser early this morning. He spoke to Zahawi to tell him he was being sacked, then it was confirmed publicly. The report from Sir Laurie Magnus left little room for any other conclusion than Zahawi’s departure.
Zahawi had said tax error was ‘careless and not deliberate’
Before he was sacked, Zahawi had issued a statement on 21 January which attempted to clarify his tax affairs, including a settlement he paid to HMRC last year.
“As a senior politician I know that scrutiny and propriety are important parts of public life,” Mr Zahawi claimed. “Twenty-two years ago I co-founded a company called YouGov. I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved. It is an amazing business that has employed thousands of people and provides a world-beating service. As a senior politician I know that scrutiny and propriety are important parts of public life. Twenty-two years ago I co-founded a company called YouGov. I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved. It is an amazing business that has employed thousands of people and provides a world-beating service.
“When we set it up, I didn’t have the money or the expertise to go it alone. So I asked my father to help. In the process, he took founder shares in the business in exchange for some capital and his invaluable guidance. Twenty-one years later, when I was being appointed chancellor of the exchequer, questions were being raised about my tax affairs. I discussed this with the Cabinet Office at the time.
“Following discussions with HMRC, they agreed that my father was entitled to founder shares in YouGov, though they disagreed about the exact allocation. They concluded that this was a ‘careless and not deliberate’ error. So that I could focus on my life as a public servant, I chose to settle the matter and pay what they said was due, which was the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, cabinet minister Michael Gove defended his former colleague.
“Nadhim is a friend of mine, so I can’t take any joy in the fact that these events have played out today in the way that they have,” he told BBC.
On the situation last summer at the time when Nadim Zahawi was paying his fine, Mr Gove said neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak would have had any awareness of the situation.
“My understanding is that there was no information that was brought to the attention of the prime minister… neither Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss,” he said.
Asked how Mr Zahawi would feel about having threatened defamation action, Mr Gove said: “I am sure Nadim will be reflecting today on this whole question.”
Gove said the prime minister’s “way of operating” is driven by “a sense of duty and profound moral seriousness”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has sacked Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, who was under pressure over his tax affairs. Here is the full text of the letter:
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 UK 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.
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