Press release 16th Jun 2022

Make ethics adviser role genuinely independent to restore credibility and enforce government standards

June 16, 2022 - The role of Number 10’s ethics adviser must be made genuinely independent to help enforce high standards in government and end the perception that senior politicians play by a different set of rules, Transparency International UK said today.

Yesterday Lord Geidt became the second Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests appointed by the Prime Minister to resign in the space of two years.

Currently, the advisor is able to investigate potential breaches of the Ministerial Code but has to seek the permission of the PM before doing so. Downing Street last month made a minor tweak to the wording of the role’s powers, but this stopped far short of granting the autonomy to launch investigations.

The power to sanction breaches of the ministerial code lies solely with the Prime Minister. 


Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive of Transparency International UK, said:

“Lord Geidt’s departure highlights a gaping hole in the oversight of conduct for those in high office. With the two previous ethics advisors resigning because their positions became untenable, qualified candidates are unlikely to be rushing to put themselves forward for the current vacancy. Making the Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests truly independent, with the ability to initiate their own investigations, will restore much-needed credibility to the role and help raise standards in government.”


In addition to making the independent advisor role genuinely independent, Transparency International UK is calling for a series of changes that would raise and enforce standards in government:

  • The Ministerial Code – like the Codes of Conduct for the civil service, special advisers, and the diplomatic service – should be put on a statutory footing, as recommended by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
  • There should be an alternative avenue for redress when the Prime Minister is not enforcing their own rules
  • The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) should be replaced with a statutory body responsible for preventing the abuse of the revolving door.
  • The role of government transparency as a central tenet of a healthy democracy should be taken seriously, with Freedom of Information requests being responded to, and in a timely matter, and with greater transparency over those lobbying government, either through a more comprehensive statutory register or better quality, more regular departmental disclosures.
  • There should be a clear statutory offence for corruption in public life, similar to the offence proposed by the Law Commission, to ensure those who commit serious abuses of power for private gain can be held criminally accountable.