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by Louise Wilson
25 January 2023
Nadhim Zawahi investigation must follow ‘proper due process’ – Rishi Sunak

Pressure is mounting on the PM to sack Zahawi | Parliament Live TV

Nadhim Zawahi investigation must follow ‘proper due process’ – Rishi Sunak

The Prime Minister has defended his decision not to sack Nadhim Zahawi as chair of the Conservative Party, arguing it is important to follow “proper due process”.

Rishi Sunak has ordered an investigation into Zahawi’s tax affairs after it emerged the former chancellor paid a multi-million-pound penalty for unpaid taxes.

The dispute between Zahawi and HMRC took place between July and September last year and Sunak highlighted this was before he took office.

Speaking at PMQs, he said the “usual appointments process was followed” ahead of making Zahawi the chair of his party. He added: “No issues were raised with me when he was appointed to his current role.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer argued that “any politician who seeks to avoid the taxes they owe in this country is not fit to be in charge of taxpayer money”.

Zahawi held the position of chancellor under Liz Truss and was one of only two ministers Sunak invited to stay in the Cabinet when he took over in October.

Starmer added: “His failure to sack him when the whole country can see what’s going on shows how hopelessly weak he is. A prime minister overseeing chaos, overwhelmed at every turn.”

 

The SNP’s Stephen Flynn also criticised the financial affairs of various ministers, including Boris Johnson. He asked Sunak: “What advice would he have for individuals seeking to protect their personal finances?

“Should they seek out a future chair of the BBC to secure an £800,000 loan?

“Should they set up a trust in Gibraltar and hope that HMRC simply don’t notice?

“Or should they do as others have done and apply for non-dom status?”

Sunak accused his opponents of “political opportunism”, adding the investigation by an independent advisor would “ensure accountability”.

Sir Laurie Magnus, who was appointed as the Prime Minister's Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests in December, will lead the probe.

A number of Conservative figures, including several MPs, are among those questioning Zahawi’s position.

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