It is understandable that after a General Election, most people who have worked hard as part of the campaign would need a break. Indeed for those who can afford to take a holiday and can get a few days off, that makes a great deal of sense. The news that Mr Johnson was going to take a few days off and fly off to Mustique between Christmas and the first few days of 2020 did of course hit the news and as the image above shows, he took the trouble to take a photographer with him who like Boris is paid by the public for his work. He would also have been accompanied by some form of protection team, who are also paid by the public. However if the highest paid MP in the country over the last year is inclined to go abroad for a holiday, then us paying for the others to follow him is part of the nature of the process. After all if he went on a visit to Saudi Arabia to challenge that nation over a number of issues or to China to try to connect with them over Huawei he would be taking the same photographer and protection team. Indeed in those cases his own travel and accommodation costs would be paid by us.
However it now appears that his holiday was a gift from a person who Johnson claims is called Mr Ross, but this has been denied by David Ross who is one of the richer people in the UK and who has made numerous donations to the political process of getting Tories and in particular their Prime Ministers elected and given all sorts of support for their travel etc. Now the reality is that when people are working for the public sector there are a number of rules and guidelines that relate to what can be donated to them and what must not be donated. Indeed the reason for this is to ensure that the individual who offers to make the donation is not seeking some form of benefit to ensure they are cared for better or ignored when a law break has taken place. So the Police have a booklet called “Guidelines on Gifts, Gratuities and Hospitality” which states elements which could be adapted by the Government to give them examples such as:
It is the responsibility of Ministers and MPs to understand how the acceptance of gifts, gratuities or hospitality can undermine personal and professional integrity. Ministers and MPs also have a responsibility to reinforce the importance of preventing allegations of corrupt practices or improper relationships with any member of the public or corporate body arising from the offer or acceptance of any gift, gratuity or hospitality.
Offers of a gift, gratuity or hospitality vary widely according to the circumstances and will range from readily identifiable examples of criminality (such as a breach of the bribery act 2010) through to instances of entirely appropriate and reasonable display of gratitude and common courtesy which do not breach the integrity of any party.
The fact is the Bribery Act 2010 is something that carries penalties for committing a crime under the Act which include a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment, along with an unlimited fine as well as the disqualification of directors under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986. Perhaps there should also be a line that leads to MPs losing their roles? It is certainly clear that if a Chief Constable was invited onto a holiday that cost £15,000 after he had experienced a busy time in his career, that his career would be about to end. On top of that the donor would be facing up to 10 years in prison and a large fine! One wonders if the Bribery Act needs opening up in this case?