Press release 28th Apr 2021

Decision not to make Prime Minister’s Adviser on Ministerial Interests genuinely independent is major missed opportunity

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April 28, 2021 - A decision not to grant the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Ministerial Interests the autonomy to launch investigations into allegations of misconduct represents a major missed opportunity to strengthen the rules for holding senior politicians to account.

Lord Geidt was today appointed to the role which has been vacant since the resignation of Sir Alex Allan in November last year.

Sir Alex quit after the Prime Minister decided that his Home Secretary had not breached the ministerial code, despite an investigation by Sir Alex concluding that she had.

Transparency International UK has identified 30 potential breaches of parliamentary and ministerial rules in 2020 alone. Many of these were not investigated.  

Transparency International UK has previously called for changes to the rules designed to ensure high standards are maintained in public life, including making compliance with the Ministerial Code a legal requirement and granting the Adviser on Ministerial Interests the autonomy to launch independent investigations into potential breaches of the rules. Currently, investigations can only be requested by the Prime Minister. They are then referred to the Independent Advisor on Ministers’ Interests, who then reports back to the PM. It is up to the PM if any action is taken.

 

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

“Given the intense public focus on the conduct and standards of those in high office, the decision not to grant the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Ministerial Interests the autonomy to launch their own investigations is a significant missed opportunity. This risks giving the impression that senior politicians play by a different set of rules and runs contrary to the advice of the Prime Minister’s own Anti-Corruption Champion in the House of Commons just this week.

“Last year alone, Transparency International UK’s monitoring found 30 potential breaches of parliamentary and ministerial rules - a concerning number of which went un-investigated. This all adds weight to the case to make the Independent Adviser fully independent – whereas the Prime Minister continues to argue that decisions on investigations should be ‘his and his alone'.

“We look forward to the detailed, and hopefully far-reaching, recommendations on this matter from the Committee on Standards in Public Life later this year.”

 

Notes to editors:

Transparency International UK’s Chief Executive, Daniel Bruce, recently gave evidence to the Committee on Standards in Public Life on issues surrounding the Ministerial Code.

 

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