Watchdog criticises decision to pay Boris Johnson’s £265,000 Partygate legal bill

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The Cabinet Office failed to travel due processes erstwhile it allowed taxpayers’ wealth to beryllium utilized to money Boris Johnson’s Partygate ineligible bills, the UK’s nationalist spending watchdog has said.

The government’s justifications for the £265,000 walk were besides deemed to beryllium “borderline” and not “wholly persuasive” by the National Audit Office (NAO).

In a study that volition origin embarrassment wrong the Cabinet Office, Gareth Davies, caput of the NAO, said its audit squad had exerted “significant effort” to analyse whether the spending was “a morganatic usage of nationalist money”.

The arguable determination allowed Johnson to person his ineligible fees during the privileges committee enquiry into his Partygate denials covered by the taxpayer.

It was criticised astatine the clip by some, including the Labour party, which said that fixed Johnson was making millions from his post-Downing Street career, helium should person paid the measure himself.

Johnson was yet recovered to person committed 5 contempts of parliament, pursuing the year-long probe into whether helium misled parliament by denying immoderate Covid rules were breached successful No 10 during lockdown.

After the Guardian revealed successful February that the NAO was examining the decision, the findings of its long-awaited audit were published connected Tuesday.

The then-permanent caput successful No 10, who was not named successful the study but is understood to beryllium Samantha Jones, failed to travel due processes erstwhile the archetypal declaration for £129,000 was awarded past August, said the NAO.

Though Jones got assurances from the propriety and morals squad and others wrong government, the NAO said the determination should person been taken by a designated accounting officer. Such an serviceman was lone brought into the process the pursuing month. After Jones near the civilian service, aboriginal increases to the spending were authorised by the due civilian servant successful the Cabinet Office.

The Cabinet Office’s statement that determination was precedent for spending nationalist wealth defending serving oregon erstwhile ministers was besides questioned by the NAO.

There was “no lawsuit that is precisely analogous to the circumstances”, the Cabinet Office admitted successful its submissions to the NAO. But the Cabinet Office maintained the government’s attack was “in enactment with established precedent acceptable by some nationalist inquiries and litigation”.

The examples highlighted by the authorities were “substantively different” from the lawsuit involving Johnson, said the NAO.

The Cabinet Office denied immoderate incorrect processes were followed, and said determination was an “established precedent” that ministers of each governmental colours could get ineligible enactment aft they had near bureau erstwhile matters related to their clip and behaviour arsenic a subordinate of the government.

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said: “The authorities has been consistently wide that the declaration grant followed the due procurement process.”

It was besides revealed this week that Liz Truss had claimed £23,310 of her allowance arsenic a erstwhile premier curate – contempt having lone lasted successful station for 49 days.

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