Boris Johnson escapes with rap on the knuckles over £15,000 donor-funded holiday

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds on the beach at the G7 in Cornwall (file photo) (Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Boris Johnson has escaped a formal sanction and been given just a light rap on the knuckles after failing to provide full details of his £15,000 donor-funded holiday.

The Prime Minister and Carrie Symonds jetted to the island of Mustique for a New Year getaway following the Tories' 2019 election landslide.

But questions raged for 18 months about how exactly he funded the luxury trip to the 1,400-acre private island – a haunt of celebs and the royal family.

After a lengthy probe, today it emerged the Commons Standards Commissioner found Mr Johnson breached the MPs’ Code of Conduct.

The Commissioner found 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."

But a Standards Committee of MPs and lay members – which has the final say – overruled this and found Mr Johnson had not breached the code after all.

A promotional shot of the Indigo villa on the island of Mustique where Boris Johnson stayed
(Image: mustique-island.com)

The Standards Committee did, however, note Mr Johnson has twice previously been reprimanded for “an over-casual attitude towards obeying the rules of the House”.

The Committee added it would have “expected him to go the extra mile to ensure there was no uncertainty about the arrangements”.

The Committee added: "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 enquiries rather than at an earlier stage.

"If greater clarity had been made available to the Commissioner at the first instance this matter could have been cleared up many months ago."

It comes weeks after another report cleared Boris Johnson of breaking the ministerial code, despite questions about how he funded a lavish revamp of the Downing Street flat.

Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministerial interests, said the PM had "unwisely" allowed the redecoration – which cost between £58,000 and £200,000 – to go ahead without considering who would pay the bill.

Mr Johnson assumed a charitable trust would foot the bill for the work but this fell through, prompting a Tory donor and the party headquarters to cough up.

It was only in March that the PM "settled the full amount himself" for the revamp, said to include £840-a-roll wallpaper, a £9,800 Baby Bear sofa and a £3,000 Lily Drum table.

Former No10 aide Dominic Cummings has branded the Geidt report a “joke”, tweeting: “Geidt simply didn't ask those who know what happened!

“PM *solicited flat £ in his study* + there’s a paper trail. If PM repeats his Geidt lies to [the Electoral Commission], he's opening himself up to perjury.”

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Mr Johnson and his now-wife stayed on a villa on the island, part of St Vincent and the Grenadines, between Boxing Day 2019 and January 5, 2020.

The PM was long thought to have stayed in the sumptuous Oceanus villa, created by Swedish architect Arne Hasselqvist in the 1970s.

The Moroccan-style stone villa had six double bedrooms, three private swimming pools, two bars, a library, four dedicated staff, three ornamental ponds, a gazebo and three 4x4s.

But today’s report finally confirms he stayed in another villa, Indigo.

A promotional image of the courtyard reflecting pool at Mr Johnson's holiday villa
(Image: mustique-island.com)

He had to make do with only three en-suite king bedrooms, three staff, one massive courtyard reflecting pool, one swimming pool, a living room, dining room and media room, and a short walk to the beach.

The MPs' Register of Interests stated the accommodation had a "value" of £15,000 and was covered by Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross.

The telephone tycoon initially said he had not paid for the holiday.

But he later issued a clarification saying the register "is correct" and he had "facilitated accommodation".

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Today's long-awaited report finds Mr Johnson "sought and was offered" use of Mr Ross’s villa, but it was unavailable so the Indigo villa was provided instead.

The PM did not pay any accommodation costs for his stay, although he met all other costs, the report found.

Today’s report finds that in a complex “ad hoc” agreement, Mr Ross “facilitated” the use of the villa he didn’t own “via the Mustique Company” which owns the island.

Mr Ross agreed the Mustique Company would pay the owners of the Indigo villa for Mr Johnson’s stay, in exchange for Mr Ross allowing the Mustique Company use of his own villa to make up for the cost.

Therefore the Committee concluded Mr Ross was the donor of Mr Johnson’s holiday accommodation after all, and Mr Johnson had not breached the Code of Conduct.

Commons Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone had previously said the break was in breach of the code of conduct.

Ms Stone said it was "unusually difficult to find the facts" about the holiday during her investigation, which lasted more than a year.

She added: "I also find that Mr Johnson has not shown the accountability required of those in public life."

Mr Johnson denied the commissioner's finding and sent new evidence to the Standards Committee.

Having received new information, the committee said it reached a different conclusion from Ms Stone – though did not criticise her findings, which were based on "the evidence available to her at the time".

Boris Johnson said he had not seen the conclusion of the report by the Commons Standards Commissioner over his luxury holiday to Mustique.

During a visit to energy company Bulb's central London headquarters, the Prime Minister told broadcasters: "I haven't seen the conclusion of that.

"But as I understand it, the committee has found there was no case to answer."

The PM's spokesman insisted: "The Prime Minister transparently declared the benefit in kind in the Commons register of interests."

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