Nadhim Zahawi has been sacked as Tory Party chairman after an inquiry by the PM’s ethics adviser found he had failed to disclose that HMRC was investigating his tax affairs.
The PM said Sir Laurie Magnus’s inquiry made clear there had been a “serious breach of the ministerial code”.
Rishi Sunak asked for the investigation after reports Mr Zahawi had paid HMRC a penalty over previously unpaid tax.
Sir Laurie said the MP had missed many chances to be open about his tax.
After receiving the findings, Mr Sunak wrote to Mr Zahawi praising his achievements but saying he had decided to remove him from government.
Mr Zahawi thanked the prime minister and said he took pride in his role in the vaccine rollout and the Queen’s funeral – but did not offer an apology or mention his tax affairs.
He promised to support the prime minister “from the backbenches in the coming years”.
In a critical four-page report to the prime minister, Sir Laurie said Mr Zahawi had not only failed to include the HMRC investigation in his register of interests until July 2022, but also failed to update it once a settlement had been reached.
Taken together these “omissions” constituted a “serious failure to meet the standards set out in the ministerial code”, he said.
Sir Laurie was also critical of Mr Zahawi for describing new stories about his tax affairs as “smears” in July 2022 and failing to correct the record until January 2023.
“I consider that this delay in correcting an untrue public statement is inconsistent with the requirement for openness,” he said.
He concluded that Mr Zahawi had shown “insufficient regard for the general principles of the ministerial code and the requirements in particular to be honest, open and an exemplary leader through his own behavior”.
He praised Mr Zahawi’s “willingness to assist with my inquiry” and said he appreciated the pressures of being a minister.
However, he added: “These factors, however, cannot mitigate my overall judgement that Mr Zahawi’s conduct as a minister has fallen below the high standards that, as prime minister, you rightly expect from those who serve in your government.”