CONSTANT Tory scandals have led to a “troubling” drop by the UK to its lowest-ever score on a global study of corruption, campaigners have warned.

The annual 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) saw the UK drop five points to score 73, its lowest-ever rating – with higher scores representing less corruption.

A number of scandals from public spending to lobbying, as well as revelations of ministerial misconduct, have highlighted woeful inadequacies in the country’s political integrity systems, the report said, while public trust in politics is also worryingly low.

Daniel Bruce, chief executive of Transparency International, which published the report, told the Sunday National such a decline should be difficult to achieve.

He said: “The thing that I would point to with the UK score which is the most troubling is the depth of the drop. This five-point drop in the score out of 100 which is statistically very significant and frankly, it’s very difficult for a country to make that happen.

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“It has to take quite a build-up of scandal and allegations and cases of perceived corruption in the country’s public sector to get a score to move that much.

“To put it in some context, the only countries in this year’s result that produced a drop of five, or more are the UK, Azerbaijan, Oman, Myanmar and Qatar.

“So we’re in that group of the kind of those are the biggest drop this year and the UK is among them.”

He added: “The reason why it’s difficult to get it to shift is that the methodology of the index tries to avoid the score being vulnerable to sort of the odd scandal here and there. If you looked at something like partygate in Downing Street or concern around the way that Covid-19 contracts were handed out and undue access and influence there – any of those things in isolation, they shouldn’t affect the score.

“So it takes a continuum of events to actually have such a big impact on a country’s score and then ultimately it shows that these things are being noticed on the world stage.”

The index found Denmark is seen as the least corrupt this year with 90 points, and Finland and New Zealand both follow closely at 87.

The report measures the perception of corruption in a country’s public sector using surveys of experts and global business leaders.

Bruce said small steps have been taken in the UK with Rishi Sunak’s appointment of an ethics adviser – but pointed out there had been a failure to deal effectively with breaches of the ministerial code going back over a couple of years.

“Importantly, when you drill into the underlying data, and what all of those different surveys are telling us in the CPI this year, one of the things that experts and business leaders are really concerned about is that there is a view that the UK Government has insufficient controls on the abuse of power for those in the highest level of authority,” he added.

He called on the UK Government to back the Public Service (Integrity and Ethics) Bill, a private member’s bill in the Lords.

“Our first call to Rishi Sunak is to get the government’s support behind that bill to show that his words around leading a government of integrity, professionalism and accountability will also be met with action,” he added.