In Brief

PM's corruption gaffe: Which countries have the biggest problem?

David Cameron caught on camera describing Nigeria and Afghanistan as 'fantastically corrupt'

David Cameron has been left red-faced after he was caught on camera describing Nigeria and Afghanistan as "fantastically corrupt" ahead of a major anti-corruption conference in London.

The Prime Minister was talking to the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to mark the monarch's 90th birthday.

"We've got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain," he said. "Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world."

Welby interrupted to defend Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, insisting he "is not corrupt" and "is trying very hard".

Buhari, who was elected last year on an anti-corruption platform, said he was "shocked" at the PM's comments, while a senior Afghan official said the characterisation was "unfair".

As if the momentary lapse of diplomacy was not "ample cause for chagrin", says The Independent, Buhari is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at Thursday's conference under the theme: "Why we must tackle corruption together".

It is likely to be an "awkward encounter" for Cameron following his "acutely embarrassing indiscretion", adds the newspaper.

According to research by global watchdog Transparency International, more than two-thirds of countries across the world have a serious problem with corruption within the public sector, with half of the G20 countries labelled as corrupt.

Afghanistan is ranked near the bottom of the least-corrupt rankings, at 166 out of 167 countries. Somalia, North Korea, Sudan, Angola and South Sudan are also in the lowest spots, while Nigeria is at 136.

Northern Europe tops the list, with the UK at number ten, tied with Germany and Luxembourg.

However, the report adds: "Just because a country has a clean public sector at home, doesn't mean it isn't linked to corruption elsewhere."

There is a hopeful note, however: more countries improved their corruption rankings than declined – Greece, Senegal and the UK among them. On the other hand, Australia is one of those to have seen a steady decline in recent years. Sitting at number 13, it dropped by six points, from 85 in 2012, to 79 in 2015.

Northern Europe tops the least-corrupt rankings, with the UK at number ten, tied with Germany and Luxembourg, but the report is cautious, stating that "just because a country has a clean public sector at home, doesn't mean it isn't linked to corruption elsewhere".

The ten most corrupt:

1. North Korea and Somalia (tied)

2. Afghanistan

3. Sudan

4. Angola and South Sudan (tied)

5. Iraq and Libya (tied)

6. Haiti, Guinea-Bissau and Venezuela (tied)

7. Eritrea, Syria, Turkmenistan and Yemen (tied)

8. Uzbekistan

9. Burundi, Cambodia and Zimbabwe (tied)

10. Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar (tied)

The ten least corrupt:

1. Denmark

2. Finland

3. Sweden

4. New Zealand

5. Netherlands

6. Norway

7. Switzerland

8. Singapore

9. Canada

10. Germany, Luxembourg and UK (tied)

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