Boris Johnson is cleared of breaking Commons rules over £15,000 Mustique ‘freebie’ with Carrie despite sleaze watchdog criticising ‘unusual’ arrangements and saying PM DIDN’T KNOW how the trip was being funded
- Boris Johnson has been under investigation over 2019 Mustique holiday funding
- Standards committee found the PM did not breach the code with the declaration
- Mr Johnson criticised for slow explanation and not checking more carefully
Boris Johnson was today dramatically cleared of breaking Commons rules over a £15,000 Mustique ‘freebie’ with Carrie, despite the sleaze watchdog criticising the ‘unusual’ arrangements.
The cross-party standards committee found the PM had made an ‘accurate and complete’ declaration about the holiday in December 2019, saying it was provided by Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross even though the couple did not stay in his villa.
But it rebuked Mr Johnson for initially failing to explain the situation to standards commissioner Kathryn Stone – resulting in a 15 month wrangle over what the real details were. She slammed him for ‘not showing the accountability required of those in public life’.
The report also suggested that the premier himself did not know exactly how the jaunt was being funded until after he arrived on Mustique and realised he was not staying in Mr Ross’s own property.
Boris Johnson was today dramatically cleared of breaking Commons rules over a £15,000 Mustique ‘freebie’ with Carrie (pictured together at Wembley last night)
The villa on Mustique where the pair are believed to have stayed in December 2019
Boris Johnson declared the holiday accommodation on Mustique was a donation from Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross
The row over Mr Johnson’s holiday from Boxing Day 2019 to January 5, 2020 started after he declared the £15,000 cost was a ‘benefit in kind’ from Mr Ross.
Mr Ross initially denied having paid for it, and it appears there was a complicated villa swap arrangement that meant Mr Johnson ended up staying in a different property owned by an American family.
The watchdog and the Prime Minister have been locked in a behind-the-scenes battle over whether he obeyed Commons rules whereby MPs must reveal details of all financial donations and benefits.
Mr Johnson funded other aspects of the holiday apart from the accommodation, according to the report.
The committee said: ‘Mr Johnson himself has stated that the arrangement for this holiday were ”unusual”.
‘By Mr Johnson’s and Mr Ross’s own admission, the arrangements for funding Mr Johnson’s holiday accommodation were ad hoc and informal, and do not appear to have been fully explained to Mr Johnson at the outset.
‘Mr Johnson initially agreed to a straightforward arrangement, but when it became apparent, within several days of his arrival, that he was not staying in Mr Ross’s villa, the arrangements became more opaque.
‘It is unsatisfactory that neither Mr Ross nor Mr Johnson explained the arrangements to the Commissioner until last autumn and that Mr Ross only provided minimal information on the arrangement this Spring and in response to our own enquiries.’
The report added: ‘This matter could have been concluded many months ago if more strenuous efforts had been made to dispel the uncertainty.
‘Given that Mr Johnson was twice reprimanded by our predecessor Committee in the last Parliament in the space of four months for ‘an over-casual attitude towards obeying the rules of the House’, we would have expected him to have gone the extra mile to ensure there was no uncertainty about the arrangements.’
The Commissioner initially found Mr Johnson in breach of paragraph 14 of the Code because he did not ‘make sufficient inquiries to establish the full facts about the funding arrangements for his free accommodation, either before his holiday, as he should have done, or in 2020’.
Ms Stone said the PM should have uncovered ‘definitively who was to fund the free accommodation he had been offered, and what arrangements had been made to pay for it’ before accepting the accommodation.
‘I also find that Mr Johnson has not shown the accountability required of those in public life,’ she added.
Doubts had been raised about whether the true cost of the villa would have been higher, but Ms Stone found ‘no reason to dispute’ the £15,000 valuation.
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