The Seven Principles of Public Life outline the ethical standards that people working in the public sector are required to demonstrate.

The Principles were first set out in the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s first report by Lord Nolan in 1995, and they are included in a range of Codes of Conduct across public life and are often referred to as the “Nolan Principles.”

So, what about Conflicts of Interest? 


“Holders of public office should act and take decisions openly and transparently. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.”


“Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.”


“Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.”


“Holders of public office should be truthful.”


“Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.”


“Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.”


“Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.”
Committee on Standards in Public Office

Committee on Standards in Public Life

Recognising the unique and unprecedented nature of the challenge for the public sector during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Committee strongly asserts that continuing to uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life is vital to maintaining trust in government and our institutions throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life will not be considering the government’s practical response to the crisis, e.g. the availability of PPE or length of lockdown, but rather monitoring any impact on standards and adherence to the Nolan Principles.

When some people benefit more or some are disadvantaged by decisions, we risk major conflict.