The prime minister says he is working hard to appoint an independent adviser on ministers’ interests and hopes to make an announcement soon.
"I'm hopeful I can make an announcement on that soon,” Rishi Sunak told the Liaison Committee on Tuesday.
“It's important to me to get someone who I think is right for the job and rest assured I'm hard at it and so hopefully we can have an announcement soon,” he told the MPs.
Sunak was forced to appoint a temporary investigator last month to look into claims of bullying against Dominic Raab.
Since Christopher Geidt resigned from the position advising then-PM Boris Johnson in mid-June, the role has not been filled.
In Sunak’s first speech as PM, on October 25, he promised to bring back “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” after a year of scandals that led to Johnson stepping down. His Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin told the Commons two days later that Sunak “absolutely” intends to appoint an independent adviser.
Almost two months’ later, there have been no further updates on recruitment efforts until Sunak was questioned yesterday by MPs.
Several candidates have reportedly turned down the role of Rishi Sunak’s ethics adviser because Sunak wants to keep the same remit that Geidt had. Candidates think the role could be reputationally damaging if they do not have the ability to launch their own investigations, according to the Guardian.
Geidt had asked to be given greater authority, and in May was given the power to initiate his own investigations into ministerial conduct, but only with the PM’s approval.
The PM will need strong reasons for refusal, such as national security concerns, and the adviser will be able to publish the reasons for a PM’s refusal.
Concern has been raised that a new adviser will not be able to investigate events that happened in the four months between Geidt resigning and Sunak becoming PM after comments from Quin in October.
He was accused of “mental gymnastics” by civil service union FDA after he said events that took place under Liz Truss in the last administration “would not be properly part of the remit” of the new independent adviser.
Truss, in her short time as PM, refused to commit to appointing an ethics adviser.