Press release 06th Jun 2022

Resignation of PM's anti-corruption champion sounds alarm over integrity in politics

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6 June 2022, London:  – The resignation of the Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Champion is an alarm bell for MPs and highlights the fragile state of integrity in public life, Transparency International UK said today.

John Penrose MP resigned on Monday claiming the Prime Minister broke his own ministerial code over ‘Partygate’ – which he described as ‘a clear resigning matter’ - making his position as anti-corruption champion untenable when this did not happen. Revelations over lockdown partying in Downing Street and claims these had been covered-up, are the latest of a series of scandals that have brought integrity in public office into question.

The Prime Minister lost his then Independent Advisor of Ministerial Interests in November 2020 when he resisted calls for an investigation into the conduct of the Home Secretary which itself had led to the resignation of the Home Office’s top civil servant. Now he has lost his personally appointed Anti-Corruption Champion in John Penrose MP. 

The resignation comes at a time when this work is more important than ever, explains Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK: 

“John Penrose was a patient reformer, who committed himself to this role for longer than any of his predecessors. Working with backbench MPs, he helped get important reforms to fight economic crime back on the legislative agenda - work which is set to continue in Parliament this year. His resignation, in defence of the Ministerial Code of conduct, shows his patience had finally run out. Standards in public life cannot be taken for granted, and are easily lost.” 

“In the coming months the Government is supposed to be developing a raft of measures to further its anti-corruption agenda. To deliver on these, his successor will clearly need the authority to hold Ministers’ feet to the fire.”


Notes to editors

John Penrose MP has held the role of UK anti-corruption champion since December 2017. He was appointed by the Prime Minister and was responsible for supporting the government’s efforts to promote its anti-corruption agenda, which has focussed mainly on corruption abroad and money laundering through the UK. Notable achievements include the publication of a five-year Anti-Corruption Strategy and the launch of a global ‘Beneficial Ownership Transparency Campaign’.

This year, the Government had planned to be developing its successors to the current Economic Crime Plan and the UK’s Anti-Corruption Strategy. Britain’s national action plan for the international Open Government Partnership is also in need of a substantive reform agenda, and there are fresh commitments to fulfil in the ‘year of action’ between the Summits for Democracy convened by US President Biden.