Defending integrity and ethics in UK public life

18 April, 2024 | 1 minute read

Given the political ethics scandals of recent years and declining trust in politicians, Spotlight has worked closely to reform how ethics in UK public life are regulated.

In 2021, Spotlight developed an advocacy campaign to raise the temperature on government to introduce stronger rules and regulations for protecting integrity in public life.

From our own polling and from focus groups commissioned jointly with Transparency International UK on what voters in the so-called Red and Blue Walls thought about recent sleaze scandals, we found voters care deeply about the fact that politicians behave badly even if it’s not top of their concerns on a day-to-day basis.

We worked closely with experts to develop the Public Service (Integrity and Ethics) Bill to give ethics regulators stronger powers and more protections. The Bill, drafted by top Parliamentary Counsel, was introduced as a Private Members’ Bill by Lord Anderson of Ipswich KBE KC, former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

We worked with politicians across the political spectrum to get reform. From former Anti-Corruption Champion John Penrose MP’s 5-point integrity plan, to helping Labour develop their proposal for an Integrity and Ethics Commission, we’ve provided expert input to keep up pressure for reform. Our April 2023 ‘Integrity Deferred?’ report – highlighted exclusively in Politico’s Influence newsletter – found that two years on from the publication of two major independent reports on improving standards in public life (by the Committee on Standards in Public Life and Sir Nigel Boardman after the Greensill scandal), the government had fully implemented just four out of 57 recommendations.

This case study is taken from our 2022-23 Impact Report which can be downloaded here.