Boris Johnson cleared of breaking code of conduct over Mustique holiday

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Kathryn Stone, the Commissioner for Standards, had earlier found that Mr Johnson had breached the MPs' code - Jessica Taylor/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Kathryn Stone, the Commissioner for Standards, had earlier found that Mr Johnson had breached the MPs' code - Jessica Taylor/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Boris Johnson has been cleared of breaching parliamentary rules over his luxury holiday in Mustique after MPs overruled the findings of the standards watchdog.

While criticising the Prime Minister for not providing a full explanation of how his trip to the Caribbean island was funded, the Committee on Standards accepted that his account was "accurate and complete".

It came after Kathryn Stone, the Commissioner for Standards, had earlier found that Mr Johnson had breached the MPs' code for not having "fulfilled conscientiously" the requirements for registering the £15,000 accommodation.

He and his wife Carrie, his fiancée at that time, travelled to Mustique at the end of 2019 for a holiday following the December general election.

Their accommodation was found to be a benefit conferred by David Ross, a multi-millionaire Tory donor and co-founder of the Carphone Warehouse. In February last year, Mr Johnson declared the accommodation in his parliamentary register of interests.

However, after initially being offered a holiday at Mr Ross's villa, it was later found to be unavailable for the dates required and another, owned by a US financier, was found for Mr Johnson.

This led to questions over whether he had properly filled out his declaration, with Ms Stone finding he had breached clause 14 of the MPs' code because he did not "make sufficient inquiries to establish the full facts about the funding arrangements".

However, Mr Johnson rejected her findings and provided written evidence to the Commons committee, which is required to rule over the commissioner's findings before deciding whether to accept or reject them, as well as recommending an appropriate sanction.

In its report published on Thursday, the committee said it did not agree with Ms Stone "in light of additional evidence", and cleared Mr Johnson of the allegation.

‘Regrettable’ that PM did not make more of an effort

The committee said Mr Ross was the donor as stated, so Mr Johnson's "register entry is accurate and complete", but did express criticism, saying the funding arrangements were "ad hoc and informal, and did not appear to have been fully explained to Mr Johnson at the outset".

The MPs 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 had already been twice reprimanded in the past, the MPs said they would have "expected him to have gone the extra mile to ensure there was no uncertainty about the arrangements".

"It is regrettable that a full account and explanation of the funding arrangements for Mr Johnson's holiday accommodation has only come to light as a result of our own inquiries rather than at an earlier stage," they added. "If greater clarity had been made available to the commissioner at the first instance, this matter could have been cleared up many months ago."

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn is under investigation by Parliament's sleaze watchdog following allegations that he did not properly declare financial support given to him for legal disputes involving anti-Semitism.

Mr Corbyn, the former Labour leader, is being investigated over the "registration of an interest under the Guide to the Rules" by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

His office has been contacted for comment.

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