Downing Street defends Boris Johnson's transparency over luxury villa holiday

No.10 has defended the Prime Minister’s transparency record as it insisted a family holiday to Marbella at a Tory peer’s villa was declared in accordance with the rules.

Last month the Prime Minister jetted off to the south of Spain with his wife Carrie and son Wilfred.

The latest update on the register of ministerial interests revealed the accommodation the Johnsons enjoyed was provided free of charge by the family of Conservative peer Zac Goldsmith.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said this should also have been declared in the Commons’ register for members’ interests, and has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards urging her to open an investigation.

Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference at the COP26 climate change summit. Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

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But Downing Street has insisted this was not necessary, with a spokesman for the Prime Minister saying: “Earlier this year, the Prime Minister received hospitality from a long-standing friend who provided use of their holiday home.

“The Prime Minister’s met the transparency requirements in relation to this. He declared this arrangement in his ministerial capacity, given this was hospitality provided by another minister.”

He said the PM’s ministerial standards adviser Lord Geidt had scrutinised the declaration as part of the process.

The spokesman declined to answer when asked how much the holiday was worth, but added: “Given the hospitality was provided by another minister, it’s right that the PM made this declaration in his ministerial capacity to ensure sufficient transparency.

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“I also point out that this was a family holiday at the home of long-standing family friends and is unconnected with a PM’s parliamentary and political activities.

“The PM has written to the House of Commons registrar to set out that this holiday has been declared under the ministerial code, because the arrangement is with another minister.”

The spokesman did not clarify when asked whether the register had replied to Mr Johnson’s letter, but added: “As I say, ministerial code declarations fall outside the remit of the House of Commons registrar and Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.”

But writing to Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone, Ms Rayner said: “This appears to be a breach of the House Code of Conduct and the rules relating to the conduct of members regarding the declaration and registration of interests and gifts.”

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She said under a previous conduct investigation it had been found “Mr Johnson was required to register the holiday accommodation he received in the Register of Members’ Interests” in relation to a £15,000 stay on the island of Mustique.

And she added Mr Johnson “has a long history of breaching the rules in relation to parliamentary standards and other integrity and anti-corruption measures”.

The letter said: “We cannot have a situation where Boris Johnson behaves like it’s one rule for him and another for everyone else.”

The entry to the ministerial register notes Mr Johnson has a “long-standing personal friendship with the Goldsmith family” who had provided the villa.

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The Prime Minister made Lord Goldsmith a life peer shortly after voters dumped him as the MP for Richmond Park in a defeat to the Liberal Democrats in 2019.

It paved the way for Mr Johnson to hand Lord Goldsmith a job in government, first in the Foreign Office before being made environment minister.

The register says: “The Prime Minister has a long-standing personal friendship with the Goldsmith family and, in that capacity, in October 2021, stayed in a holiday home in southern Spain which was provided free of charge by the Goldsmiths.

“Given Lord Goldsmith is a minister of the Crown, the arrangement has accordingly been declared.”

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