NADHIM Zahawi has spoken after he was sacked from the UK Government without mentioning the row over his tax affairs and with a pop at the press.

It emerged on Sunday morning that Rishi Sunak had removed Zahawi from his role as minister without portfolio from the Cabinet, and his job as Tory party chairman, with a replacement expected to be announced on the same day.

An ethics probe into Zahawi’s failure to disclose a HMRC investigation and subsequent fine in his register of interests, and during his appointment process as Chancellor under Boris Johnson, was a “serious breach” of the ministerial code.

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However, Zahawi did not respond to any of the conclusions found by independent adviser Sir Laurie Magnus, and instead criticised coverage of the row over his tax affairs.

Instead, Zahawi said it had been the “privilege of my life” to serve in numerous Tory governments and said his proudest achievements were the Covid-19 vaccine roll out and the role he played as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when Queen Elizabeth died.

In a letter to Sunak after he was sacked, Zahawi wrote: “I am concerned, however, about the conduct from some of the fourth estate in recent weeks. 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.

“I am sorry to my family for the toll this has taken on them.”

Zahawi accused The Independent of a “smear” in July last year after they first broke the story that he was being investigated by HMRC. His use of the phrase and failure to provide an accurate response to journalists was criticised by Magnus in the outcome of his ethics probe into Zahawi.

On July 10 2022, Zahawi said in a statement to the press: “There have been news stories over the last few days which are inaccurate, unfair and are clearly smears. It’s very sad that such smears should be circulated and sadder still that they have been published.

“These smears have falsely claimed that the Serious Fraud Office, the National Crime Agency, and HMRC are looking into me. Let me be absolutely clear. I am not aware of this. I have not been told that this is the case.

“I’ve always declared my financial interests and paid my taxes in the UK. If there are questions, of course, I will answer any questions HMRC has of me.”

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The former Chancellor told Magnus during the probe that when he gave the statement he was not aware he was under investigation by HMRC.

“I consider that an individual subject to the HMRC process faced by Mr Zahawi should have understood that they were under investigation by HMRC and that this was a serious matter,” Magnus concluded. He referenced the part of the Ministerial Code which sets out ministers have a duty to be “as open as possible with Parliament and the public”.

He added: “Whilst this duty clearly does not extend to disclosing personal tax information, it does include a general duty to be accurate in statements to ensure a false impression is not given or maintained.

“Mr Zahawi did not correct the record until 21st January 2023, when Mr Zahawi’s public statement indicated that he had reached a settlement with HMRC following an investigation. I consider that this delay in correcting an untrue public statement is inconsistent with the requirement for openness.”

Signalling he had no intention to resign as an MP, Zahawi concluded his letter: “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.”