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Nadeem Zahavi urged to step aside as Tory party chairman amid probe into his tax affairs

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Adhim Zahawi was urged on Tuesday to stand aside as chairman of the Tory party while his tax affairs are investigated by the prime minister’s ethics adviser.

The call came from senior Conservative Caroline Knox, chair of the Commons Women and Equality Committee.

He told BBC Breakfast: “Nadeem should stand aside until this matter is completely cleared up.”

His comments came as doubts were cast over Mr Zahavi’s future as Tory chairman after a minister said there were “very serious questions to answer” over his tax affairs.

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Rishi Sunak on Monday ordered an investigation into Mr Zahavi’s tax situation by his ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus, saying there were “questions to be answered” about it, and his compliance with the ministerial code.

But Police Minister Chris Phillips appeared to tone down the rhetoric on Tuesday, citing “very serious questions”.

Mr Sunak defended the cabinet minister at Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday, saying he “addressed the matter thoroughly”.

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But the prime minister appears to have been unaware that Mr Zahavi was allegedly fined for compromising with HM Revenue and Customs over shares sold in YouGov, which he co-founded.

The BBC said on Monday Mr Zahavi paid a fine as part of the deal, reported by the Guardian to be around 30 per cent, taking the total estimated settlement to around £4.8 million, although the figures have not been confirmed.

Mr Zahavi has insisted that his “error” on the YouGov shares was “reckless and not intentional”.

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In a statement, he said: “I am confident that I have acted absolutely properly and look forward to answering any and all specific questions that Sir Laurie may have in a formal setting.”

Ms Noakes told BBC Breakfast: “Nadeem needs to explain all the questions he is being asked by journalists and others.

“We need clarity.

“It is a really difficult situation for any government minister to be in when you are leading the news on every front page this morning.”

He denied that the PM was too “weak” to remove Mr Zahavi from his post during the investigation.

But he added: “I think Nadeem should stay aloof until this matter is cleared.

“The longer it takes, the worse it is for him, so I hope the investigation is speedy.

“For his own sake, he has to have some space between being a government minister and this type of investigation.”

The Labor Party has called for Zahawi’s removal from Sunak.

Mr Phillip told GB News: “Certainly there are very serious questions to be answered.

“The prime minister, as soon as he realized there were more questions to answer over the weekend, decided to appoint an independent ethics consultant to look into it.

“It’s the right thing to do.

“So let’s wait for that report to come out because until we get that report we are just speculating because we don’t know exactly what happened.”

Mr Sunak stressed on Monday that his independent adviser on ministerial interests, Sir Lowry, has been requested to “thoroughly investigate this matter and provide me with advice on Nadim Zahavi’s compliance with the ministerial code”. .

He added that “we will decide on the appropriate next steps” based on their findings.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy argued that a former chancellor of “any previous government” would have “stepped down or resigned or been sacked” in the same position as Mr Zahavi.

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