.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, December 02, 2022

The failing ministerial code

If anything underlines how ineffective the ministerial code is, it is the reinstatement of Suella Braverman to the role of Home Secretary by Rishi Sunak just days after she was sacked by Liz Truss for a potential security breach. However, according to the Guardian, this is just the most high profile of a whole load of breaches that have never been properly addressed.

The paper says that a parliamentary committee has warned that historic breaches of the code may never be investigated or resolved, including the conduct of the home secretary or Islamophobia claims against a former chief whip, with up to forty potential breaches of the ministerial code never having been referred for investigation by the ethics adviser:

Rishi Sunak has launched a hunt for a new adviser on ministerial interests but the Guardian reported last week several candidates have turned down the role. Sunak is not offering candidates any enhanced powers – which means advisers would not be able to launch their own investigations.

The ethics adviser, when appointed, would probably face calls to renew or open at least two complex investigations – including concluding one into alleged Islamophobic comments made by the then-chief whip Mark Spencer to MP Nusrat Ghani.

There will also probably be pressure to open an investigation into the home secretary, Suella Braverman, who was sacked for a potential security breach by Liz Truss though reinstated by Sunak.

The pressure group Transparency International has been among those calling for the role to have significantly enhanced powers since it was vacated by Christopher Geidt five months ago under Boris Johnson.

In analysis of media reports, the group found 40 potential breaches of the ministerial code have not been investigated over the past five years. Those included:

* Meetings by Nadhim Zahawi and Kwasi Kwarteng with the Libyan politician Fathi Bashagha, organised by the lobbyist Mark Fullbrook who became Truss’s chief of staff. * Michael Gove’s acceptance of £120,000 in donations from property developers while serving as housing secretary. * Multiple meetings held by Anne-Marie Trevelyan with a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company with no record of what was discussed.

All the ministers have claimed donations and meetings were recorded accurately, but Transparency International said each one represents a potential breach that should be investigated where a perceived conflict of interest may arise.

The group has also called for appointments to the role to be made with a competitive process and for the position to be defined in law – rather than both being at the whim of the PM.

Sunak has expressed a desire to instil integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level of government, but if he doesn't give the new ethics advisor the powers needed to do the job property, then it won't happen.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?