An inquiry was launched more than a year ago – when will it reach a conclusion?
More than a year after it was revealed that Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, had begun an inquiry into how Boris Johnson‘s Caribbean break over the Christmas holiday in 2019 was funded, she has still to say a word about the matter.
“The problem is it’s up to the MP to what extent he or she co-operates with the watchdog and in this case it’s been limited,” says my man in Westminster. “There are also no deadlines set for members to come back with the requested information so it’s not inconceivable this will report after Johnson has left office.”
When I asked for a progress report, a spokesman for Stone told me: “In July 2018, the Commons agreed an amendment to Standing Order No 150, deciding that the commissioner should cease her long-standing practice of publishing the names of MPs whose conduct is under investigation.”
The spokesman adds, helpfully: “This means we can neither confirm nor deny whether the commissioner is investigating an MP.”
Jon Trickett made little secret of the fact that he had, as the shadow Cabinet Office minister, made a formal complaint about Johnson to Stone because the MPs’ “code of conduct requires members to provide the name of the person or organisation that actually funded a donation”.
Stone is understood to have requested information from both Johnson and David Ross, the former deputy chairman of Carphone Warehouse, who was originally believed to have given Johnson, pictured, the run of his villa on Mustique. Johnson has claimed the £15,000 cost of the villa he stayed in was paid for by Ross, a Tory party donor who owns a property on the island.
Johnson’s declaration in the register of MPs’ interests was, however, later contradicted by Ross, who said he did not own the villa where Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds, stayed. Ross said he had only “facilitated accommodation for Mr Johnson”.
Lord Myners, the former Labour Minister, is one of several peers facing calls to quit their second jobs in lobbying companies as the sleaze scandal that’s engulfing Westminster spreads far and wide.
Still, Myners, the chairman of the PR giant Edelman and vice chairman of Lord Mandelson’s consultancy Global Counsel, is not necessarily one of the nation’s more effective lobbyists.
In 2010, he attempted to become a member of London’s august Garrick club. He was proposed by Alan Rusbridger, at the time the editor of the Guardian, and seconded by the columnist Sir Simon Jenkins. “Myners may have got himself into the Lords, but there was no way we were letting him into the Garrick,” on member tells me. “The problem was no one here except Alan and Simon could stand him.”
Mandrake put in a call to Channel 4 a couple of weeks ago to inquire about Paul Dacre’s eager-awaited television series, The World According to Paul Dacre, which was first announced almost two years ago.
An answer came there none. Initially it was thought the former Daily Mail editor couldn’t do it because he was being lined up to take over at the broadcasting regulator Ofcom. That never happened. Never a natural television performer – one thinks of his appearance at the Leveson inquiry – it may be he’s just got camera shy.
“Delighted for Clive Myrie, the new host of Mastermind and Celebrity Mastermind,” gushed Jonathan Munro, the deputy director of BBC News and head of news content the other day.
Also in the running for that job – indeed, the Daily Telegraph said she was “leading the race” in a front page story – was Samira Ahmed, the Newswatch presenter, pictured.
In the successful equal pay case she brought against the BBC, Ahmed disclosed how Munro had not taken kindly to the way she had interviewed him on Newswatch.
“He was angry and took that out on me,” Ahmed said. “The studio crew were shocked by his behaviour and told me so. The BBC press officer present to watch the recording sent me an email after saying it had got a bit ‘heated’ and she hoped I would have a nice weekend – clearly a veiled admission that he had behaved inappropriately.” Ahmed said that she told her editor she should get “danger money” for what she had to go through.
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