Stratford-on-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi criticises press as he's sacked as Conservative Party Chairman

Credit: PA

Warwickshire MP Nadhim Zahawi has criticised the British media in a letter to the Prime Minister after he was sacked as Tory party chairman.

The MP for Stratford-on-Avon has been embroiled in a discussion over his tax affairs, after it emerged that he had paid a penalty as part of an estimated £4.8 million settlement dispute with HMRC.

On Sunday morning, the Prime Minister wrote to Mr Zahawi sacking him from government, saying in a statement that "it is clear that there has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code”.

The PM also thanked him for his work in government, and added that he hoped Mr Zahawi would continue to "passionately and determinedly serve your constituents of Stratford-on-Avon."

In his response, Zahawi listed his main achievements in government as the roll-out of the Covid vaccine when he was vaccines minister, and his involvement in planning the mourning period that followed the death of the Queen.

However he also hit out at press coverage of his tax affairs, writing that he was "concerned" at the actions of "the fourth estate" - a reference to the press and media.

"In a week when a Member of Parliament was physically assaulted, I fail to see how one headline on this issue 'The Noose Tightens' reflects legitimate scrutiny of public officials."

In comments that appear to indicate that the former chancellor holds out little prospect of returning to office in the years to come, he said: “You can be assured of my support from the backbenches in the coming years. Your five priorities are the right priorities, and I will do whatever I can to help you deliver them.”

The Liberal Democrats have called on Nadhim Zahawi to resign as an MP as they seek an independent inquiry into the affair.

Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Rishi Sunak has finally acted after spending days defending the indefensible on Nadhim Zahawi.

“It should never have taken him this long to act. Sunak’s first 100 days in office have been tarnished by endless Conservative sleaze and scandals.

“Serious questions remain about what Sunak knew about Zahawi’s tax affairs when he appointed him. We need a proper independent inquiry to establish the facts and hold the Prime Minister to account.

“Given this was a serious breach of the ministerial code, Nadhim Zahawi must also do the right thing and resign as an MP. He has shown he is unfit to serve in Cabinet and unfit to serve the people of Stratford-on-Avon.”