David Cameron demands an investigation into cabinet minister Baroness Warsi over claims she broke the ministerial code by taking a business partner on an official trip to Pakistan.
The prime minister has asked Sir Alex Allan, his independent adviser on ministerial interests, to look into the matter after Lady Warsi failed to disclose her business relationship with Abid Hussain.
The Conservative Party co-chairman yesterday wrote a letter of apology to Mr Cameron over the trip to Pakistan, saying that she was “sincerely sorry” for embarassment to the government.
This investigation is the latest in a string of scandals surrounding her alleged conduct in office. She is already facing a separate inquiry into the allegations about her House of Lords expenses claims, in which she is accused of claiming up to £2,000 for staying rent-free in the home of a Tory party donor.
Labour MP Karl Turner has also asked police to investigate allegations that she made claims for parliamentary expenses she had not incurred.
In her letter, she admitted that Mr Hussain had assisted the British high commission with outreach events in Pakistan in July 2010 as a “community activist”.
Mr Hussain is her husband’s second cousin – a fact she said is “widely known”. But she said that she had not realised the need to declare that they also had “a common business interest as a minority shareholders in a small food company”.
She wrote: “I sincerely regret that I did not consider the significance of this relationship with Mr Hussain when the arrangements for the visit were being made. In retrospect, I accept that I should have made officials aware of the business relationship between Mr Hussain and myself, and for this I am sorry.
“I regret that this failure may have caused embarrassment to the government.”
Mr Cameron is now taking advice from Sir Alex to “consider the issues that have been raised with respect to the ministerial code and to provide advice to me as rapidly as possible”.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher said it was right for Mr Cameron to call in Sir Alex over the issue.
But he said the prime minister’s actions with Lady Warsi drew into “sharp relief his refusal to hold a similar investigation into Jeremy Hunt”.
He added:”David Cameron is bending over backwards to defend Jeremy Hunt because he knows that it is his own judgment, in appointing a man he knew to be biased to oversee the BSkyB bid, that is in question.”