The former Chief Whip has been cleared of breaching the Ministerial Code after ‘Muslimness’ allegation.
Wealden MP Nusrat Ghani claimed she had been told that her dismissal as a Government Minister in 2020 was partly because of concerns about her “Muslimness”.
Rishi Sunak’s ethics adviser, Sir Laurie Magnus, said in his report that it was not possible for him to determine what the then Chief Whip, Mark Spencer, MP said to Ms Ghani.
The inquiry was critical of Mr Spencer’s actions as Chief Whip but cleared him of breaching the Ministerial Code.
Despite a review of considerable evidence, it has not been possible to draw a clear picture of what was discussed between Mr Spencer and Ms Ghani during two meetings which both agree took place on 4th and 23rd March 2020. These discussions are central to the allegations made. Ms Ghani and Mr Spencer have differing accounts of these meetings, with different recollections of what was said. Each has provided evidence (including some contemporaneous notes) to support their respective accounts, but given the differing evidence presented to me, I am not able to conclude with sufficient confidence what was or was not said at these two meetings.Sir Laurie Magnus
However Sir Magnus, Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, criticised “shortcomings” in Spencer’s response to the Islamophobia allegations made by Ghani.
He said the then Chief Whip “should have taken more care” when briefing the Prime Minister Boris Johnson before his meeting with Ms Ghani, as Mr Spencer gave an “inaccurate” account by omitting to mention one of his meetings with her, which was central to her claims.
In his reply today Rishi Sunak has said:
As you say, this has been an unsatisfactory experience for both Ministers involved. But in the absence of clear evidence, it would not be right to take further action. I have spoken to both Ministers and encouraged them to heed your advice to pull together in the finest tradition of public service.Prime Minister
Nusrat Ghani MP has posted a statement on Twitter saying Sir Laurie’s report is clear her evidence was “credible and consistent”.
I’m relieved that the report acknowledges that the previously denied 4th March 2020 meeting did take place and was central to the matter, as well as that Twitter statements were published ‘without evidence’.
Ms Ghani thanked the Prime Minister and Sir Laurie for publishing the report after three years.
Click to see the exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests about the inquiry.