UK PM Sunak fires party chair Zahawi in tax scandal

STORY: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak fired the chair of his Conservative Party, Nadhim Zahawi, from government on Sunday over the ongoing scandal regarding his taxes.

Sunak had initially stood by Zahawi, who was also a member of his cabinet, but then ordered an independent investigation after it emerged Zahawi had settled a prior probe by Britain's tax agency last year.

Sunak says it was a "serious breach" of conduct.

Zahawi has previously said the tax body ruled he'd been "careless" but that hadn't deliberately made an error to pay less tax.

The independent investigation, however, said Zahawi did not declare that his tax affairs were being scrutinized when he was briefly made finance minister last year.

And failed to disclose details when Sunak appointed him to his current role, adding that Zahawi had shown "insufficient regard" for the requirement to be honest and open.

In a letter to Zahawi, Sunak called it a serious breach of the ministerial code.

Zahawi's response to Sunak did not mention either the tax agency or the independent adviser's investigation, but concern over the media response and that he would continue to support the prime minister.

He is still a member of parliament.

The opposition Labour Party and some of Sunak's own Conservative lawmakers had said Zahawi should have stood down earlier.

Zahawi became finance minister following Sunak's own resignation from the role in July last year.

He briefly unsuccessfully campaigned to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.