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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
01 February 2023
PMQs: Sunak questioned over knowledge of investigations into Zahawi and Raab

PMQs: Sunak questioned over knowledge of investigations into Zahawi and Raab

Rishi Sunak was questioned by Labour leader Keir Starmer at PMQs over the appointments of Nadhim Zahawi as party chair and Dominic Raab as deputy prime minister.  

The prime minister was asked when he knew of the investigation by HMRC and the National Crime Agency into Zahawi’s tax affairs, and similarly when he was aware of bullying complaints made against Raab.  

Starmer told Sunak that his response to the findings of an investigation into whether Zahawi had broken the ministerial code had raised “more questions than answers”.

The PM's ethics adviser found Zahawi breached the ministerial code seven times while failing to disclose that HMRC was investigating his tax affairs

Starmer asked if the prime minister was aware before or after the former chair’s appointment to the role that he was being investigated.  

Sunak responded that “as a result [of the findings published at the weekend] I took action”.  

Starmer quoted three headlines from July last year from national newspapers that reported that Zahawi was under investigation.

Starmer asked: “Is he saying his officials hid that from him or was he just too incurious to ask any questions?”

Sunak was clear that the “usual appointment process was followed” and “no issues were raised with me at the time of that appointment”.

Attention then turned to Raab. Starmer said going on most recent figures, Raab faces “24 complaints of bullying”, asking Sunak if “he was the only person completely unaware of the serious allegations” prior to the appointment.  

The prime minister again told the Commons that he “followed due process [by] appointing an independent advisor” once he was made aware of the “new information”.  

Starmer was met with similar criticism by Sunak over Labour MP Rosie Duffield's comments that her party reminded her of an “abusive relationship”.

The Labour leader said that some of the people that complained about Raab were “left feeling physically sick and one was left suicidal.

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