Rishi Sunak under investigation by standards watchdog

British PM faces allegations of failing to declare shares his wife holds in childcare agency

British prime minister Rishi Sunak is being investigated over a potential breach of rules relating to the declaration of interests, related to his links to a childcare firm in which his wife is an investor.

The UK parliament’s commissioner for standards Daniel Greenberg has opened an investigation into the prime minister on Thursday last week, an update on the commissioner’s website said.

The entry says only that it relates to paragraph six of the updated code of conduct for MPs, which states they “must always be open and frank in declaring any relevant interest in any proceeding of the house or its committees”.

No 10 has confirmed it is connected to Koru Kids, which is among six private childcare providers likely to benefit from a pilot scheme proposed in last month’s budget to incentivise people to become childminders, with £1,200 offered to those who train through the agency.


Mr Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, is listed as a shareholder in the company.

On March 28th, Mr Sunak did not mention his wife’s interest when speaking about the childcare changes before the liaison committee in the House of Commons. He was asked by the Labour MP Catherine McKinnell whether he had anything to declare. “No, all my disclosures are declared in the normal way,” he replied.

It later emerged that bosses from the company attended a Downing Street reception hours after Mr Sunak’s committee appearance.

It is understood that Ms McKinnell raised the issue with Mr Greenberg.

Mr Sunak does not list his wife’s shareholding on his register of interests as an MP. Under current rules, MPs are required to update this register promptly.


Downing Street has argued that this is not necessary, because Mr Sunak cited it on a separate register of ministerial interests. This, however, has not yet been published, as it is still being compiled by the new adviser on ministerial interests, Laurie Magnus. He was appointed in December after six months in which the post was not occupied after the resignation of Christopher Geidt, who stepped down amid his unhappiness about Boris Johnson’s role in lockdown-breaching No 10 parties.

The ministerial register of interests is meant to be updated twice a year but has been delayed owing to the lack of an adviser. The MPs’ register of interests, in contrast, is updated every fortnight.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “We are happy to assist the commissioner to clarify how this has been transparently declared as a ministerial interest.”

One of Mr Greenberg’s main decisions will be whether this interpretation of the interest regulations is correct. It is possible for breaches related to registering an interest to be resolved by so-called rectification, in which the commissioner and the MP concerned agree how it can be properly registered.

While this would spare Mr Sunak potential scrutiny by the standards committee, which oversees the work of the commissioner, it would require No 10 to concede an error.

While failure to register interests can be viewed as a relatively minor infraction, if the commissioner did find Mr Sunak at fault it could be seen as a more serious matter given he did not just omit to mention an interest, but told the liaison committee that he did not have one.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said the failure to update the ministers’ register of interests for nearly a year had “left a transparency black hole which is enabling the prime minister and those he has appointed to dodge proper scrutiny of their affairs”.

She said: “If Rishi Sunak has got nothing to hide, he should commit to publishing the register before May’s elections so the public can see for themselves.”

Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrat chief whip, said: “Another day and another accusation of a Conservative prime minister bending the rules.” - Guardian