Rishi Sunak under investigation by parliamentary standards commissioner over possible failure to declare an interest

17 April 2023, 12:45 | Updated: 17 April 2023, 13:21

Rishi Sunak pictured after delivering his speech on plans to improve maths education
Rishi Sunak pictured after delivering his speech on plans to improve maths education. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Parliament's standards watchdog has opened an investigation into Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over a possible failure to declare an interest.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Daniel Greenberg opened the investigation into Rishi Sunak over rules requiring MPs to declare their interests.

An update to the parliamentary website shows the investigation, opened on Thursday, relates to paragraph six of the code.

"Members must always be open and frank in declaring any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its committees, and in any communications with ministers, members, public officials or public office holders," the section reads.

Read more: 'You will see us again,' activist who disrupted Grand National warns ahead of Royal Ascot and the Derby

Read more: Harry and William have 'no plans for reconciliation' during Coronation

A No 10 spokeswoman responded: "We are happy to assist the commissioner to clarify how this has been transparently declared as a ministerial interest."

A Downing Street source said the investigation relates to the shares his wife Akshata Murthy holds in a childcare agency that will be boosted by the Budget.

Mr Sunak faced demands to "come clean" about his family shares last month after being questioned by MPs over why the childcare policy favoured private firms.

Appearing before the Liaison Committee, he did not mention Ms Murthy's shares in the firm, in which she has been listed as a shareholder on Companies House.

A fortnight earlier, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a pilot of incentive payments of £600 for childminders joining the profession.

Questioning why the sum doubles to £1,200 if workers sign up through an agency, Labour MP Catherine McKinnell asked if Mr Sunak had any interests to declare.

"No, all my disclosures are declared in the normal way," Mr Sunak said.

Koru Kids, which is one of six childminder agencies listed on the Government's website, welcomed the new incentives in the Budget as "great".

At the time the possible conflict of interest emerged, Mr Sunak's press secretary said the interest would be included in the updated statement of ministers' interests, due out in May.