Receive free Rishi Sunak updates
we will send you myFT Daily Digest Email summary of the latest information Rishi Sunak Every morning there is news.
The regulator concluded that Rishi Sunak failed to properly declare his wife’s financial interest in a child care facility that could benefit from a change in government policy.
Parliamentary standards commissioner Daniel Greenberg said the prime minister’s failure stemmed from a “confusion” over the rules and was therefore an “unintentional” error.
Sunak said he accepted Greenberg’s ruling and apologized for the error. The prime minister faces no further action.
Greenberg began investigating Sunak in April after Prime Minister Sunak failed to declare his wife, Akshata Murty, a company registered child care workers when questioned by MPs Shareholder of Koru Kids.
Koru is one of six institutions listed by the government for nannies and will benefit from the incentive payment pilot scheme announced in the March Budget.
Sunak discussed the government’s policy of paying people to be nannies – especially if they use one of six agencies – at a meeting of the Commons Select Committee on Liaison in March.
Asked by Catherine McKinnell, the Labor member of the committee, if he had any statement to make, Sunak said: “No. All my disclosures are made in the normal way.”
Greenberg said his investigation concluded that Muti’s holdings were a related interest that should have been declared to lawmakers.
The commissioner said Sunak was aware of his wife’s stake in Koru before writing to Sir Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative chairman of the Liaison Committee, in April, but failed to declare it.
Greenberg said lawmakers were expected to draw attention to any “registered or unregistered interests in almost any context” — including those of partners — when they could have a potential impact on their own actions.
Sunak registered his wife’s shares in Koru in a private register of all ministerial interests overseen by civil servants.
But details of the stake were not included in the public list of ministerial interests. The list is less comprehensive than the official private records.
Sunak also did not include his wife’s shareholding in the Register of Members’ Interests as it does not fall under the relevant category that needs to be disclosed.
Following Greenberg’s investigation, Sunak’s entry in the list of ministerial interests was updated with a footnote about Muthy’s stake in Koru added.
Greenberg said Sunak “confuses the concept of registration with the concept of declaration” and therefore “failure to declare that this confusion arose and was therefore negligent on the part of Mr Sunak”.
In a letter to Greenberg, the prime minister said his wife’s stake in Koru was only about 1% of the company’s total value, adding that she was not a director and had no decision-making power in the agency.
Sunak added that three independent advisers had concluded that his wife’s stake did not need to be fully disclosed on the ministerial interest list.
“The comments I made during the meeting . . . the March 2023 Liaison Committee hearing and subsequent letter to the chair were and still are true,” he said.
Sunak added that he had not been informed of the government’s childcare policy before the Budget was released.
“I also did not attend any ministerial or departmental meetings to discuss the mechanics of the scheme ahead of the Budget, nor did I mention childcare on government websites,” he added.