Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has sacked Nadhim Zahawi as the party chairman of the Conservative Party after paying a penalty to resolve a multi million-pound tax dispute while he was a chancellor,the BBC has reported.
In a letter to Zahawi, Sunak said there “has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code.” The former chancellor of the exchequer has received pressure to resign in recent days as suspicions about his finances arose after he issued a statement to "clear up some of the confusion."
The sacking comes after Zahawi admitted to paying a tax settlement with His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) following a dispute. Meanwhile, Sunak had faced calls all week to sack the former from his cabinet, and instead asked his new ethics adviser - Sir Laurie Magnus - to assess whether the HMRC settlement amounted to a breach of the ministrial code.
In the letter sent to Zahawi on Saturday (January 29), Sunak said the decision was made following the completion of the Independent Adviser’s investigation led by Sir Laurie. He said: “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.”
Despite admitting his tax settlement, Zahawi has not disclosed the amount, which is said to be an estimated £4.8 million including a 30% penalty or whether he paid a fine.
But according to a letter written by Sir Laurie to the PM this morning, he concluded that Zahawi had “shown insufficient regard for the general principles of the Ministerial Code” and not fulfilled the requirements of being an “honest, open an exemplary leader.”
The report said: “Given the nature of the investigation by HMRC, which started prior to his appointment as Secretary of State for Education on 15th September, 2021, I consider that by failing to declare HMRC’s ongoing investigation before July 2022 - despite the ministerial declaration of interests form including specific prompts on tax affairs and HMRC investigations and disputes - Mr Zahawi failed to meet the requirement to declare any interests which might be thought to give rise to a conflict.”
He added: “Taken together, I consider that these omissions constitute a serious failure to meet the standards set out in the Ministerial Code.” In a letter written by the prime minister to Zahawi, Sunak informs the Tory party chairman of his subsequent decision to remove him from his ministerial post following Sir Laurie’s findings.
He said: “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.”