Code governing ministers' behaviour updated


The code of conduct governing the standards of behaviour expected from Government ministers has been rewritten following a series of scandals which took the scalps of former Cabinet members Damian Green, Sir Michael Fallon and Priti Patel.

A revised code, being published on Tuesday afternoon, includes new wording spelling out the need to avoid inappropriate, bullying or harassing behaviour, as well as a section specifically stating the requirement for ministers to report official meetings in the UK or overseas.

At the first meeting of her new Cabinet in 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Theresa May made clear she expected colleagues to ensure that they and their ministerial teams read the revamped document.

The ministerial code of conduct was introduced by John Major in 1992 and has gone through several updates, often in response to successive scandals. The most recent version was published by Mrs May in December 2016.

Front page of the most recent version of the Ministerial Code of Conduct (Cabinet Office)

Since then, Mrs May has seen Sir Michael resign as defence secretary after allegations of improper advances towards female journalists and Mr Green quit as her effective deputy following an investigation into his alleged behaviour towards a female Tory activist.

Ms Patel resigned as international development secretary in November after failing to report her participation in meetings with Israeli government officials during a private holiday in the country.

Former Cabinet minister Priti Patel, who quit in November after failing to report meetings in Israel (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Mrs May's official spokesman said the Prime Minister announced the publication of the new code at this morning's meeting and "asked all Cabinet colleagues to confirm at a later date that they and their ministerial teams have read it".

The spokesman said: "There are a number of changes. It will include new wording to ensure the code properly covers inappropriate, bullying or harassing behaviour and new wording to specifically address the requirement on ministers to report official meetings domestically and especially overseas."