1. ITV Report

Government updates code of conduct following harassment allegations

Credit: PA

The Government is updating its code of conduct for ministers covering inappropriate bullying or harassing behaviour, and the requirement to report overseas meetings, Downing Street has announced.

The code of conduct will be updated following a string of sexual harassment allegations in Westminster, and the sacking of former international development secretary Priti Patel after she admitted taking time out of a family holiday to meet the Israeli Prime Minister and other officials without telling the Foreign Office.

A revised code, which will be published on Tuesday afternoon, includes new wording spelling out the need to avoid inappropriate, bullying or harassing behaviour, as well as a section specifically stating the requirement for ministers to report official meetings in the UK or overseas.

At the first meeting of her new Cabinet following the reshuffle which has taken place in the last two days, Prime Minister Theresa May made clear she expected colleagues to ensure that they and their ministerial teams read the revamped document.

The ministerial code of conduct was first introduced by John Major in 1992, and has gone through several updates since, often in response to successive scandals.

The most recent update was published by Mrs May in December 2016.

Since then, a string of scandals have rocked Westminster.

In late October, Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary, after he admitted his own behaviour had "fallen below the high standards required" by his role, after it was reported that he had repeatedly and inappropriately touched journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer's knee at a dinner in 2002.

In November, Ms Patel was sacked after failing to report her meetings with Israeli government officials during a private holiday.

In December, Damian Green, one of the Prime Minister's closest allies, was sacked after admitting he provided "misleading" statements about the alleged discovery of porn on his Commons computer.

A Conservative activist, Kate Maltby, also came forward with allegations that the former de facto prime minister acted inappropriately towards her during a meeting in 2015, "fleetingly" touched her knee during a meeting in a pub, and a year later sent a "suggestive" text message after she was pictured wearing a corset in a newspaper.

Mr Green strongly denied the allegations.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said there were "a number of changes" to the code.

They continued: "It will include new wording to ensure the code properly covers inappropriate, bullying or harassing behaviour and new wording to specifically address the requirement on ministers to report official meetings domestically and especially overseas."