28-29 January 2023 – the weekend’s (other) press releases

  • Richard Sharp: Publish Boris Johnson’s hidden register of interests

    Richard Sharp: Publish Boris Johnson’s hidden register of interests

    The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to publish Boris Johnson’s internal register of ministerial interests including details of the personal loan he received.

    It comes as the Sunday Times reports that Boris Johnson was formally told by the Cabinet Office to stop asking Richard Sharp for “advice” about his “personal financial matters.

    It is reported that details about the loan were included in Johnson’s own declaration in the internal register of ministers’ interests, parts of which are not made public.

    Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain said:

    This bombshell revelation suggests Boris Johnson has been lying through his teeth yet again. How can Johnson claim that Richard Sharp knew nothing of his personal finances when he was explicitly told by officials to stop asking for his financial advice?

    The public are sick of these endless lies and Conservative cover ups. This government must come clean and publish all relevant documents, including Boris Johnson’s internal register of interests, so we can get to the bottom of this.

    Rishi Sunak must also finally publish the latest list of Conservative ministers’ interests, which shockingly has still not been updated since last May.

    “Unanswered questions” over Zahawi’s attempts to silence media through legal threats

    The Liberal Democrats have said there remain “serious unanswered questions” over Nadhim Zahawi’s attempts to silence the media and campaigners on the issue of his tax affairs.

    Under the Ministerial Code, ministers are supposed to inform the Attorney General before initiating legal proceedings in a personal capacity, including in cases related to potential defamation.

    The Liberal Democrats have called on Rishi Sunak to immediately clarify whether Zahawi informed the Attorney General before issuing threats of legal action against campaigners and journalists, as well as calling for a broader independent inquiry into the issue.

    Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

    Rishi Sunak has said nothing at all about Zahawi’s shameful attempts to muzzle journalists and campaigners through threats of legal action. Instead Zahawi has refused to apologise and doubled down by using his resignation letter to attack the media.

    This glaring omission raises serious unanswered questions. Did Zahawi inform the Attorney General of these legal proceedings as he would be required to under the Ministerial Code? And what action is the government taking to prevent Cabinet Ministers behaving in this way in future?

    We need a proper independent inquiry to get to the bottom of this scandal. The whole sorry episode has shown the critical role the media and campaigners play in holding ministers to account. But they never should have had to battle threats of legal action simply for trying to expose the truth.

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