Tory minister Nadhim Zahawi got £1.3 million from a second job at an oil company while working as an MP, which he was able to keep secret thanks to a Parliamentary loophole.
The education secretary also received a final £285,000 “settlement payment” after he became a minister in 2018, The Mirror has revealed.
Zahawi had a job with Gulf Keystone, an oil field in Kurdistan paying an eye-watering sum of over £1,000 per hour, but although his income was declared, his total second job earnings are unknown because of Parliamentary rules allowing him to advise firms through his consultancy, Zahawi & Zahawi.
Constituents have ‘right to know’
Sir Alistair Graham, former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: “This could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to get around the rules so that he doesn’t have to admit the scale of his earnings in a consultant capacity.
“The important thing to stress is that MPs have their personal responsibility to ensure that they comply not only with the letter but the spirit of the code of conduct.
“Constituents have a right to know how much time and money he is taking separate to his political work.”
Alex Runswick, of Transparency International UK, said: “Any new controls on MPs’ second jobs need to focus on potential conflict of interests, not just the hours worked or additional earnings.
“Any company owned by an MP risks becoming a shell behind which the extent of the work and these conflicts remain hidden.”
Zahawi was also on a second oil firm’s payroll, Afren, and after he finished working for them in 2015, he became a Chief Strategy Officer at Gulf Keystone, earning £29,643 for eight to 21 hours a month, which he declared.
It is the latter firm he received hundreds of thousands in settlement from, together with £300,000 “bonus payments” and £105,000 “salary in lieu of notice” in May 2018, four months into his junior minister role.
There is no suggestion Zahawi was involved in any wrongdoing and The London Economic has contacted him for comment.
Another Tory MP benefits from second job
The news comes as a Daily Mail investigation revealed a Tory MP scooped a lucrative £1,000 an hour contract from a firm that has benefited from NHS Covid contracts.
According to the investigation, Jonathan Djanogly received a payment of £30,000 for just 32 hours’ work a year to act as chairman of Pembroke Venture Capital Trust.
It has a stake in Thriva which picked up Government contracts worth £186 million, data analysts Tussell has revealed.
Thriva’s first £61 million Covid testing contract was awarded without competition in August 2020, three months after its directors met former health minister Lord Bethell, who was sacked two months ago after using a private email address for official business.