Dear Mr Ross
I am writing as Chair of the House of Commons Committee on Standards, following an investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner on Standards into Mr Boris Johnson’s registration in the Register of members’ Financial Interests of free accommodation on the island of Mustique. I am grateful to you for your helpful correspondence with the Commissioner on this subject.
Following discussion of the Commissioner’s Memorandum, the Committee is concerned that there is still uncertainty about the facts behind that registration. I have therefore been asked to make further urgent enquiries on behalf of the Committee.
I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions individually no later than 4 pm on Wednesday 23 June 2021.
1. Which villa on Mustique did Mr Johnson stay in?
2. Do you know who owns it?
3. What enquiries did Mr Johnson make of you regarding the owners of the villa and the arrangement for their recompense?
4. You have provided a letter from the Managing Director of the Mustique Company in which he says “It was and remains my understanding that you were responsible for compensating the company for the cost of the rental of this booking in the usual way.” Have you made any financial payment to the Company in relation to Mr Johnson’s stay - or compensated the Company in any other way? If so, please provide details of when this compensation was agreed, whether it was a financial or in kind transaction. If it involved your providing your property for free in exchange for Mr Johnson’s stay, please provide details of these arrangements, including when these arrangements were agreed, who they were agreed with; when your property was to be available in return; and whether it was in fact used in this way or is still to be used in this way.
5. You wrote to the Commissioner on 9 September 2020: “You have asked as to whether or not I have recompensed the owner of the villa where Mr Johnston stayed for the duration of his holiday in any way at all. The answer is no.” In your letter to the Commissioner dated 3 November 2020 you said that there was “an ad hoc understanding with them” (meaning the Company) and that you “had facilitated the accommodation.” Could you please clarify who did recompense the owners of the villa, if anyone?
6. Why did you not refer to the existence of a reciprocal arrangement between you and the Mustique Company in your correspondence with the Commissioner in July 2020 or September 2020?
7. At the point that you offered Mr Johnson the use of accommodation not owned by you, via the Mustique Company, was there an agreement in place that you would provide use of your own villa in recompense? If so, please provide a copy of any written evidence of the agreement.
We would be very grateful if you could answer these questions individually and precisely, so that we can come to a secure and definitive determination.
If you would prefer to respond to the Committee in person rather than in writing, the Committee would be happy for you to appear before us to give oral evidence in private.
Dear Mr Bryant
Thank you for your letter of 16 June. The answers to the questions that you have posed are as follows:
1. I do not know the name of the villa.
2. I do not know who owns the villa.
3. I have no recollection of ever discussing with Mr Johnson the identity of the owners of the villa. I was asked upon Mr Johnson’s return by his team as to the value of the property which I ascertained from The Mustique Company. I have since confirmed the terms of the reciprocal arrangement that I have with The Mustique Company and the matters detailed in my letters of 3 November 2020, 21 January 2021 and 29 March 2021.
4. Of course I cannot speak for The Mustique Company but I anticipate when they used the words ‘the usual way’ they mean the arrangement detailed in the letters referred to above. I have not made any financial payment to The Mustique Company in relation to Mr Johnson’s stay.
5. Again I would refer you to my letters referred to above and indeed the other correspondence which explains my understanding of the position. I still view the arrangement as an ad hoc understanding as it is not a formal agreement. I have no knowledge about the compensation to which you refer.
6. With the greatest of respect I answered the questions that were put to me as I believe is clear from re reading the correspondence. No criticism was made in this regard by the Commissioner and you have described the correspondence as helpful .
7. Can I refer you to my answers to 4 and 5 above to my previous correspondence.