.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, February 03, 2023

Will watchdog bare its teeth over Johnson?

The Mirror reports that the government's spending watchdog is looking into whether billing taxpayers £220,000 defending Boris Johnson over the Partygate scandal is money well spent.

They say that the National Audit Office has confirmed it was 'seeking further information' over the revelation that public money was being spent to fund Boris Johnson's defence against allegations he misled Parliament about Partygate:

It follows a request by campaign group Unlock Democracy to look at whether the spending is a "sensible and legitimate use of public money".

The Mirror previously revealed the estimated cost in defending the shamed former Prime Minister had soared by more than £90,000 since last summer.

Mr Johnson, now a backbench MP, faces a probe over his denials of lockdown-busting gatherings in No10, with hearings likely to begin next month.

He is being investigated by the House of Commons Privileges Committee, which will determine whether he committed contempt of Parliament - an allegation he denies.

Solicitors firm Peters and Peters were awarded a contract worth £129,700 to provide Mr Johnson with advice during the investigation.

Cabinet Office permanent secretary Alex Chisholm confirmed to MPs that the sum had risen dramatically, and could not guarantee it wouldn't go up even further.

An NAO spokesperson said: “The NAO received a query from a member of the public relating to our audit of Cabinet Office accounts.

"We are seeking further information in response to the correspondence and will be considering the matter as part of our audit.”

It has raised questions over whether Mr Johnson should be footing the bill himself, having raked in millions from speeches and an advance on his memoirs since leaving office.

Former Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, who heads Democracy Unlocked, told The Guardian: “In these circumstances, and with public finances under huge pressure, the taxpayer shouldn’t underwrite his open-ended defence legal costs.

"Fortunately for Johnson, thanks to his recent extra-parliamentary activities, he can afford to pay for them himself.”

The question of course is whether the NAO will actually do something about this complaint. We wait with bated breath.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?