UK premier being investigated over Caribbean holiday funding
This is 1st in British history serving prime minister is being investigated by parliamentary commissioner for standards
The UK’s parliamentary standards commissioner announced on Monday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under investigation for breaching MPs’ code of conduct over who paid for his Caribbean holiday in Christmas 2019.
Kathryn Stone is the independent parliamentary commissioner for standards, and is responsible for regulating MPs’ conduct and adherence to parliamentary standards.
She has the power to suspend MPs if serious breaches of those standards have taken place.
This is the first in British history a serving prime minister is being investigated by the commissioner.
The commissioner said the specific issue under investigation was: “Registration of interest under category 4 of the guide to the rules [visits outside the UK] in 2020.”
The full section of the code of conduct he is being investigated under reads: “Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the house in respect of the registration of interests in the register of members’ financial interests. They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the house or its committees, and in any communications with ministers, members, public officials or public office holders.”
Johnson took the £15,000 ($21,199) holiday to Mustique with his now fiancée Carried Symonds after his general election victory in 2019.
Mustique is a private island in St Vincent and the Grenadines, an archipelago in the Caribbean.
Downing street previously said that “all relevant transparency requirements” were met, but there has been controversy over how Johnson declared the holiday in the MPs’ register of interests.
Johnson wrote in the register that he accepted “accommodation for a private holiday for my partner and me, value £15,000."
He cited Conservative Party donor David Ross, co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, as the provider.
But Ross initially denied that he was the one who paid for the holiday, but then said it was a “benefit in kind”.
Ross’ spokesperson said on Monday: "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."
‘Another day, another investigation’
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: "Another day, another investigation into Boris Johnson for more sleaze and dodgy dealings. The public have a right to know who paid for Boris Johnson's luxury Caribbean holiday and the renovation of his flat.
"Most importantly, we need to know what these donors were promised or expected in return for their generosity. As we have seen over the last year, Tory donors have received a very high return on their investment in the form of government contracts.
"Boris Johnson needs to stop using the office of Prime Minister as an opportunity to fund his lavish lifestyle and enrich his mates."
The list of MPs Stone was investigating had been kept secret until last Thursday’s elections, but has now been released.
Seven other MPs from the ruling Conservative Party are also under investigation: Owen Paterson, Theresa Villiers, Adam Holloway, Bob Stewart, Natalie Elphicke, Roger Gale, and Jonathan Gullis.
Johnson is already being investigated over who initially paid for the refurbishment of his Downing street flat, which local media have reported could possibly have cost up to £200,000 ($282,646).
The latest news comes amid increasing allegations of sleaze at the top of Britain’s government.
Last month, the UK government was embroiled in a lobbying scandal after the BBC reported on a text message exchange between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and billionaire inventor and entrepreneur James Dyson about the tax arrangements of the latter’s employees if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the early phase of the pandemic in March 2020.
That story in turn came on the heels of another lobbying scandal, where former Prime Minister David Cameron was found to have lobbied high-ranking politicians and civil servants on behalf of Greensill Capital, a failed financial firm.