Chancellor Jeremy Hunt: I have not paid an HMRC fine

Tory party chairman Mr Zahawi is believed to have paid a penalty to the taxman, with some claims it was of around £1 million, as part of a reported £4.8 million settlement with HM Revenue and Customs.

He denies any wrongdoing, saying he had made a “careless” not a “deliberate” error.

But the row has led to other Cabinet ministers being asked if they have paid a similar fine in the past.

Chancellor Mr Hunt, who gave a keynote speech in central London on Friday, initially declined to say whether he had paid such a penalty.

But later he said: “There is an independent process going on looking at Nadhim Zahawi and it would not be right for me comment on that.

“I don’t normally comment about my own tax records but I’m Chancellor so for the record I have not paid an HMRC fine.”

Downing Street also initially batted off questions about Rishi Sunak’s tax affairs before later saying he had not paid a tax fine.

Mr Hunt insisted early on Friday that journalists would not find anything “interesting” in his tax affairs and claimed the public are not “remotely interested” in the subject.

He was responding to questions amid growing calls for Mr Zahawi to step aside as Tory party chairman while under investigation.

Mr Zahawi has authorised HM Revenue and Customs to discuss his settlement with the investigation ordered by Rishi Sunak which is being carried out by his ethic adviser Sir Laurie Magnus.

Pressure on Mr Zahawi grew after HMRC boss Jim Harra told MPs on Thursday that there are “no penalties for innocent errors in your tax affairs”.

Responding to questions after a Bloomberg speech, Mr Hunt said: “I’m not going to talk about my personal tax affairs, but I don’t think there’s anything you’d find interesting to write about if I can put it that way.”

He declined to answer when pressed again and added: “By the way, I don’t think people at home are remotely interested in personal tax affairs, they are interested in these things,” gesturing towards the Government’s five priorities.

But he later changed his position with his denial of having paid a fine.

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