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Fri, 3 July 2020

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Labour demands sleaze probe into Boris Johnson's Caribbean holiday with girlfriend

Labour demands sleaze probe into Boris Johnson's Caribbean holiday with girlfriend
3 min read

Labour has demanded that Parliament's sleaze watchdog launch a probe after a row erupted over Boris Johnson's New Year holiday in the Caribbean with his girlfriend.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett wrote to Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, saying the Prime Minister's "pre-eminent public role" meant an investigation should take place into who funded the pair's stay in Mustique.

The latest Commons register of interests for the Prime Minister includes a listing for: "Accommodation for a private holiday for my partner and me, value £15,000." The donor is listed as millionaire Tory supporter David Ross.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Mr Ross told the Daily Mail: "Boris wanted some help to find somewhere in Mustique, David called the company who run all the villas and somebody had dropped out. 

"So Boris got the use of a villa that was worth £15,000, but David Ross did not pay any monies whatsoever for this."

In a further statement on Thursday, the spokesperson insisted the arrangement was above board.

"Following media reports I would like to provide further explanation of the benefit in kind Mr Ross provided to Mr Johnson," he said.

"Mr Ross facilitated accommodation for Mr Johnson on Mustique valued at £15,000.

"Therefore this is a benefit in kind from Mr Ross to Mr Johnson, and Mr Johnson's declaration to the House of Commons is correct."

But in his letter to Ms Stone, Mr Trickett accused the PM of accepting the £15,000 benefit "without full knowledge of its true source".

He added: "This case has added significance not only because of Mr Johnson’s pre-eminent public role as Prime Minister, but because in April 2019 he had to apologise to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Committee on Standards for failing to declare expenses correctly.

"Notably, the Committee asserted that 'should we conclude in future that Mr Johnson has committed any further breaches of the rules on registration, we will regard this as a matter which may call for more serious sanction'.

"Transparency is crucial to ensuring that the public have confidence that elected members of this House have not been unduly influenced by any donations or gifts that they may receive. For this reason, and the above concerns, I therefore request that you to investigate whether the Prime Minister has followed all transparency requirements when registering this donation."

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "All relevant transparency requirements have been met, as set out in the register of members' financial interests.

"This was a benefit in kind from David Ross, a friend and former colleague. A spokesperson for David Ross has clarified this morning that the PM's declaration was correct and that the accommodation was facilitated as a donation in kind."


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