A wealthy businessman has denied he paid for Boris Johnson’s New Years “jaunt” to the Caribbean, with the Prime Minister now facing questions about where the money came from.
David Ross, co-founder of the Carphone Warehouse and a Tory donor, said the Mustique villa the PM and partner Carrie Symonds stayed at for a week is not owned by him.
And he is adamant he didn’t pay the £15,000 for the trip, as claimed by Mr Johnson in the latest Commons register of interests, published on Wednesday.
As a result, Labour has asked the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to launch an investigation if Mr Johnson does not “come clean”.
He had faced a backlash for not returning to the UK from his holiday promptly after the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on January 3 by the US, and the resultant tensions in the Middle East.
The private holiday lasted from Boxing Day to January 5, according to the register entry with the villa reportedly including three staff members.
The Prime Minister listed the excursion as a ‘benefit in kind’ from ‘Mr David Ross’, with the entry also saying: “Accommodation for a private holiday for my partner and me, value £15,000.”
But Mr Ross claims the Prime Minister had come to him for help in finding accommodation for the holiday, but that the villa where he stayed is not his and he didn’t fork out for the trip either.
A spokesman for the businessman, 54, said: “Boris Johnson did not stay in David Ross’s house.”
Asked about Mr Johnson’s declaration, the spokesman said: “I believe it is a mistake.”
The spokesman went on to say that Mr Ross had “not put his hand in his pocket whatsoever and can obviously prove that – [he] most definitely did not pay anything and it was not his house.
“Boris wanted some help to find somewhere in Mustique, David called the company who run all the villas and somebody had dropped out.”
Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said: ” Boris Johnson must come clean about who has paid for his luxury trip.
“If he fails to do so, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should step in and make him fess up.
He added: “The public deserves to know who is paying for their Prime Minister’s jaunts.”
MPs must declare gifts and hospitality they get within 28 days on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, with any serious breaches can result in suspension.
It is understood that Mr Ross had other guests staying at his own house on the island during Mr Johnson’s stay.
The Daily Mail reports Downing Street sources on Wednesday insisted Mr Johnson’s holiday had been declared in the right way, and that Mr Ross was responsible as he arranged it.
Pictures of the villa, which includes four-poster beds, open-air terraces overlooking stunning views, and a swimming pool – while Ms Symonds posted a snap of her driving a boat during the trip.
In 2018, DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr was barred from the Commons for 30 sitting days for not declaring a pair of family breaks paid for by the Sri Lankan government.
Long-term Tory donor Mr Ross gave £250,000 to the Conservatives in the final push of December’s general election campaign in which the party won by a landslide.
Mr Johnson, meanwhile, was the highest earning MP in the last parliament, making nearly £800,000 – largely by way of making speeches and writing articles.
According to the Mail, No 10 said: “All transparency requirements have been followed, as set out in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.”
Former Prime Minister Theresa May scooped £96,000 for a single speech at the accountancy firm PwC, the newspaper claims.