Rishi Sunak’s spouse provides up childcare shares after PM battle of curiosity row

Rishi Sunak’s spouse has given up her shares in a childcare agency that was given a lift within the Budget, it has been introduced.

Akshata Murty donated her stake in Koru Kids to charity after her involvement grew to become an “unfair distraction” for the charity, a press release stated. The Prime Minister confronted a requirements probe after failing to declare Mrs Murty’s curiosity within the agency, which was set to profit from incentives.

Koru Kids chief government Rachel Carrell stated that curiosity meant that work to enhance entry to look after households was “lost in the media attention surrounding this investment”. She added: “As we move into 2024, we need to ensure that school-age children are not left behind in any new plans that materialise from the government’s levelling up plans for childcare, without any distractions for our business.”

Last August Mr Sunak made a humiliating apology for failing to tell MPs about the shares. He was found to have “inadvertently” broken the MPs’ code of conduct by not declaring Mrs Murty’s stake when questioned by MPs. He then failed to correct the record in a letter to a committee chairman days later.

Commons standards commissioner Daniel Greenberg said Mr Sunak should have mentioned it when addressing the cross-party liaison committee during a grilling on March 28. He found that rules had been broken but accepted that Mr Sunak – who promised to lead a Government of “integrity, professionalism, and accountability” – had got “confused”.

Downing Street had initially maintained the PM had followed the rules “to the letter”. Koru Kids is one of six private childcare providers set to benefit from a Government pilot scheme announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to incentivise recruitment of childminders.

When requested by Labour MP Cat McKinnell whether or not he had something to declare in relation to the transfer, Mr Sunak instructed MPs in March: “No, all my disclosures are declared within the regular method.” Mr Greenberg’s inquiry was opened the next month after the PM’s hyperlinks to the corporate had been made public.

In his ruling the commissioner stated: “In accordance with the Code, Ms Murty’s shareholding was a relevant interest that should have been declared during the Liaison Committee meeting on 28 March 2023.” But he stated he was happy Mr Sunak had confused complicated guidelines.

In a letter revealed with the ruling, the PM wrote: “Should this scenario arise again, I have acknowledged that I have a duty to write to the Committee after my appearance to correct the record. I accept and once again apologise that my letter to the Liaison Committee on 4 April 2023 was not sufficiently expansive, as it confused the language of registration and declaration.”

Ms Murty’s shares have been gifted to ShareGift, a UK-registered charity that accepts donations within the type of shares. They had been donated in December. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman declined to touch upon the donation.