Boris Johnson had cousin act as ‘guarantor for an £800,000 credit facility’ while PM - Update - Richard Sharp resigns

Former prime minister Boris Johnson reportedly used a millionaire cousin as a guarantor for an £800,000 credit facility (Peter Byrne/PA)

Boris Johnson used a distant millionaire relative to act as a guarantor for an £800,000 credit facility while he was in Downing Street, according to a report. According to The Sunday Times, Canadian businessman Sam Blyth, reportedly worth 50 million dollars, agreed to act as a guarantor for a credit facility for the-then Prime Minister. According to the report, Mr Blyth is a friend of Mr Johnson’s father, Stanley Johnson. Their mothers were said to be cousins.

A spokesman for the former Conservative leader, when asked about the report, said all of Mr Johnson’s finances “are and were properly declared”. He said advice was sought from UK Government officials and ethics advisers before any personal arrangements were made.

The credit was said to be available from February 2021 to help with Mr Johnson’s “day-to-day expenses”. The newspaper said he needed the financial provision despite earning £164,000 as Prime Minister, with an anonymous source cited as saying Mr Johnson was on the verge of “going broke” and there were fears that he “would not be able to pay his own annual tax bill”.

Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie are also said to have used a Dominican Republic property owned by Mr Blyth, suggesting it was where he was holidaying when Liz Truss, his successor, was ousted from Downing Street. Mr Blyth reportedly advertises the Caribbean holiday villa at £4,100 per night.

The Sunday Times said using Mr Blyth as a guarantor was signed off by the Cabinet Office propriety and ethics team on the condition that there was “no conflict of interest, no risk of a conflict of interest, and no risk even of the perception of such a conflict”.

Another freebie for BJ … seemingly, he can’t live without other people’s money or gifts … :roll_eyes:

This was in the New Statesman in 2019.
." The Conservative Party has imposed upon Britain, at a time of profound national crisis, a prime minister who is spectacularly unfit for the job, both morally and politically. It has installed in an office once held by the likes of Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee a liar, an adulterer and a pedlar of fantasies who is so utterly lacking in principle and integrity that he is willing to sacrifice the nation’s future on the altar of his own ambition. "
You can’t say you weren’t told.

I didn’t need to be told - I already knew … :man_shrugging:

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When I said “you” I meant the UK not you personally :grinning:

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Even now there are mugs who believe in BJ - no amount of telling will change their minds … :man_shrugging:

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The condition of the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics Team’s sign-off was that there was “no conflict of interest, no risk of a conflict of interest, and no risk even of the perception of such a conflict”.

It must be just a coincidence that while Johnson was liaising with officials over his agreement with Mr Blyth - December 2020 / early 2021 - Mr Blyth himself was being considered as a candidate to be the next CEO of the public body of the British Council.

I’m sure it must have been coincidental and no string-pulling or scratching of backs was involved in either of these two completely separate events.

In any event, Blyth was not selected for the role, so if there was a quid pro quo, he got short-changed in the deal! - either it was just an innocent coincidence or BoJo is not as influential as he promised his Coz! :rofl:

The Sunday Times says Richard Sharp was involved in arranging a guarantor on a loan of up to £800,000 for Mr Johnson. Mr Sharp said he had “simply connected” people and there was no conflict of interest.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said he did not receive financial advice from Mr Sharp. He also dismissed Labour’s suggestion Mr Johnson could have breached the code of conduct for MPs “through failing to appropriately declare the arrangement” on his Parliamentary register of interests.

Mr Johnson was reported to be in financial difficulty in late 2020. The Sunday Times says multimillionaire Canadian businessman Sam Blyth - a distant cousin of Mr Johnson - raised with Mr Sharp the idea of acting as Mr Johnson’s guarantor for a loan. It is not clear where the loan agreement itself came from.

Mr Sharp - a Conservative Party donor who at the time was applying to be the chairman of the BBC - contacted Simon Case, the then-cabinet secretary and head of the civil service. The paper says a due diligence process was then instigated. The Cabinet Office later wrote a letter telling Mr Johnson to stop seeking Mr Sharp’s advice about his personal finances, given the forthcoming BBC appointment, the Times says.

According to the paper, Mr Sharp, Mr Blyth and Mr Johnson had dinner together at Chequers before the loan guarantee was finalised, although they deny the PM’s finances were discussed then.

Former Goldman Sachs banker Mr Sharp was announced as the government’s choice for the new BBC chairman in January 2021. The role is recommended by the culture secretary and the prime minister.

Labour’s chairwoman Anneliese Dodds has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Daniel Greenberg, asking for “an urgent investigation into the facts of this case”.

In her letter to the commissioner, Ms Dodds cites the Sunday Times story, saying she was concerned that Mr Johnson may have breached rules “by asking for an individual to facilitate a guarantee on a loan whom he would later appoint to a senior public role”. She said that a “lack of transparency” may “give the impression that this was a quid pro quo arrangement, something which would undermine the integrity of the democratic process, and calls into question the process by which the chairman of the BBC was appointed”.

“quid pro quo” - then BJ gets “quid pro nihil” … :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Mr Sharp is under scrutiny over his links to the former prime minister and his role in talks over an £800,000 loan.

He said he was confident he was “appointed on merit” and welcomed a review.

Speaking to the BBC, he said he “absolutely” feels comfortable about being the face of BBC impartiality, a fundamental part of how the organisation is expected to operate, despite questions which have emerged this week.

He rejected suggestions he should stand down pending the findings of an investigation by William Shawcross, the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Mr Sharp said he welcomed that scrutiny and had taken steps to ensure “due process was followed by the book”.

Time will tell … :thinking:

Links between Boris Johnson and BBC chairman Richard Sharp are under fresh scrutiny, following a report that the then-prime minister was told to stop asking Mr Sharp for financial advice.

The leaked memo, reported by the Sunday Times, was sent weeks before Mr Sharp was appointed to the corporation. > The new leaked memo allegedly says: “Given the imminent announcement of Richard Sharp as the new BBC chair, it is important that you no longer ask his advice about your personal financial matters.”

Last week Mr Sharp said that he had not given advice to the former prime minister. BBC News has been told Mr Sharp’s position remains unchanged.

However, his appointment is to be investigated by the public appointments commissioner as well as an internal panel. He has also been asked to appear before the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s select committee to be grilled by MPs.

The Conservative government has also faced attacks from opposition parties over the appointment of Mr Sharp, whose role as BBC chairman is to uphold the broadcaster’s independence.

According to the Sunday Times, the memo warning to Mr Johnson, said to be from Mr Case, was sent on 22 December 2020 - about two weeks before his government announced Mr Sharp’s appointment as the new BBC chairman.

Mr Johnson is said to have secured his loan for £800,000 the following month.

He was reportedly told he could take out the loan - without declaring it - as long as his guarantor Mr Blyth had no “business or personal interests in the UK” beyond his family ties.

But Mr Blyth was on a government list of recommended candidates for the British Council, without senior figures in the public body realising his relation to Mr Johnson, the Sunday Times reported.

Mr Blyth told the paper that his name was suggested by others, that he never formally decided to apply, and that he ultimately ruled himself out of the running.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman told the BBC that he and his team had been unaware that Sam Blyth was being considered for a role at the British Council.

IMO, blatant corruption and cronyism … :exclamation:

An alternative investigator is set to be drafted in to review how the appointment, announced in January 2021, was made.

Mr Shawcross revealed his decision to step back from the probe in a letter to the chair of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

In the letter, he added he had decided on the move because he had met Mr Sharp on “previous occasions,” without offering further details. He did not give a timeline for when his replacement would be found.

Mr Sharp’s appointment is also set to be examined in a separate probe from the BBC board, which will examine his current personal interests for any conflicts.

Presumably, any Tory appointed will be related, an “old boy” or a member of the right club … :roll_eyes:

Worse, Sharp was very clear in his interviews for the position of BBC chair that the role should have no involvement in editorial decisions at the BBC. Then as soon as he was in the role he demanded that he was part of the decision making to appoint the next head of news at the BBC. This is the tory party (remember, as well as his help to Johnson, Sharp donated £400k to the tory party) placing their people in key BBC roles to place their views into BBC programming.

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I didn’t know that … :astonished:

It seems that the deeper the investigation into Sharp, the stronger connection to the Tories:

Sharp was Rishi Sunak’s boss when they both worked for Goldman Sachs, was an advisor to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London, and acted as an unpaid adviser to Sunak on the UK’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2014, Sharp joined the property investment company RoundShield Partners. RoundShield advised and managed a fund that provided a £50m loan to Caridon, which has been accused of “cramming homeless and low-income families into former office blocks”. (1)

Sharp, who has come under fire in recent days over allegations he helped organise an £800,000 loan facility for Boris Johnson, was working as an economic adviser in Downing Street at the time Oncimmune’s grant was approved by UK Research and Innovation, which is part of the business department.

In January 2021, it was announced that he would be the next chairman of the BBC. Controversy surrounded his appointment as it was revealed that not only had he donated more than £400,000 to the Conservative Party, but that he was also formerly the director of the Centre for Policy Studies, a right-wing think tank created by Margaret Thatcher. The appointment followed that of Tim Davie, a former Conservative Party council candidate, to the role of Director-General.

(1) The conditions in some of Caridon’s converted blocks, which were fast-tracked under government planning changes, have been exposed by BBC journalists, with Panorama last year finding young families and people escaping domestic abuse living alongside former prisoners and people with drug issues.

Strong connections, strong convictions and (probably) a billionaire to boot (2) … :moneybag:

(2) In 1987, Richard Sharp married Victoria Hull, an American and fellow Goldman Sachs banker, in Connecticut. In October 2008, the couple were living in Kensington, and had an estimated net worth of £500 million.

Assuming that he followed his own best financial advice, doubling that amount should have been easy … :roll_eyes:

Interestingly:

Sharp owns a multimillion pound stake in a healthcare company which was granted nearly £600,000 for Covid research while Sharp worked in No 10, it has emerged. He is the second-largest shareholder in Oncimmune, a cancer detection company which received funds in 2020 to help research Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. He was previously a director at the company.

BBC chairman Richard Sharp made “significant errors of judgement” by facilitating an £800,000 loan guarantee for Boris Johnson, a cross-party committee of MPs has found.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Mr Sharp should “consider the impact his omissions will have” on public trust in the broadcaster after he failed to declare his role as a go-between for the former prime minister when applying for the chairman’s job. The MPs also said his actions “constitute a breach of the standards expected of individuals” applying for prominent public appointments.

The strongly-worded report from the cross-party MPs on the committee suggests Mr Sharp’s actions could damage the BBC. The same committee backed Mr Sharp’s appointment to the chairman’s job in January 2021 but was not aware of his role in facilitating the loan.

“Richard Sharp’s decisions, firstly to become involved in the facilitation of a loan to the then-prime minister while at the same time applying for a job that was in that same person’s gift, and then to fail to disclose this material relationship, were significant errors of judgement, which undermine confidence in the public appointments process and could deter qualified individuals from applying for such posts,” the committee said. Mr Sharp should consider the impact his omissions will have on trust in him, the BBC and the public appointments process."

A rap on the knuckles and nothing else … :question:

With a report into Mr Sharp due imminently, the holiday break in the Dominican Republic intensified focus on Mr Johnson’s arrangements.

Mr Johnson headed off to the Caribbean on March 30 – at the start of the Easter holidays and just days after his disastrous grilling by a committee of MPs over Partygate. He, wife Carrie and their children Wilfred – who is three this week – and 16-month-old Romy landed at La Romana airport. They took a seven-minute drive to the villa, which Mr Blyth usually rents out.

It sits within Casa de Campo, a private gated community which has been a favourite haunt of superstars Rihanna, Jay-Z and Beyonce, not to mention US Presidents including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The Johnsons are understood to have flown from Gatwick, enjoying hospitality worth £1,584 in the Sussex Suite – a private VIP terminal – while waiting for their flight.

Mr Johnson, 58, declared his free use of the departure suite, but did not declare any hospitality from Mr Blyth on his Commons register of interests. Neither did he declare his previous stay as a guest of Mr Blyth last October, saying he did not need to because it was a personal matter.

Since Mr Johnson left office, he and his family have been staying rent-free in a Cotswolds cottage and a £20million townhouse in Knightsbridge – both owned by Lady Bamford – at an estimated value of £13,500 a month.

Despite trousering more than £5million for speaking engagements after quitting, Mr Johnson has accepted free access to VIP suites at Gatwick and Heathrow 27 times since last August, with a combined value of £47,736.

If it’s free, then BJ’s up for it but if it comes out of his own pocket then it’s a different story:

The family went (to the Dominican Republic) economy class.

I see nothing wrong with BJ asking his cousin to stand as his guarantor, or what he charges for after-dinner speaking; more fool those for paying such sums. What puzzles me is, with all of Johnson’s wealth and prolific income, why he wants a loan to buy his new estate.
All of my tenants have ‘guarantor’ co-signed leases after the guarantor has been checked out along with the prospective tenant. IMO, non-guarantor leases would be fiscally irresponsible.

While there has not been official confirmation, sources say the independent report by Adam Heppinstall KC could be published on Friday. It examines the public appointment process that led to Mr Sharp being appointed chairman in February 2021.

And the report will say that the ex-banker and significant tory party donor with no broadcasting experience was simply the best man for the job.

Richard Sharp has announced his resignation as chairman of the BBC after a report found he breached the code on public appointments.

In a statement given before the publication of the report, Sharp said Adam Heppinstall KC, who led the inquiry, had concluded “that while I did breach the governance code for public appointments, he states that a breach does not necessarily invalidate an appointment".

Sharp continued: “Indeed, I have always maintained the breach was inadvertent and not material, which the facts he lays out substantiate.”

Nevertheless, Sharp said he was resigning to “prioritise the interests of the BBC”.

He said he would remain in post until the end of June while the process to appoint his successor took place.

Two non-disclosure breaches by Sharp, report finds

We’re looking at the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ report in full now, which has found two non-disclosures by Richard Sharp during the application process for his BBC chairman role breached the governance code for public appointments.

Adam Heppinstall KC says Sharp failed to disclose two “potential perceived conflicts of interest” to the panel that interviewed him.

  1. Sharp informed then Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he “wished to apply to be chair of the BBC board, before he made his application in November 2020”.

  2. Sharp informing Johnson, before he was interviewed, that he was going to to make the introduction between Sam Blyth and the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case so that he might “assist the former prime minister with his personal finances”.

Sharp is maintaining his “innocence” but surely anyone seeking such a high-level appointment would not “inadvertently” omit highly relevant information from an application form?

The report’s key findings at a glance

We’ve been combing through the report into Richard Sharp’s conduct in the run up to his appointment as BBC chairman. Here are the key take-aways from the report:

  • The bottom line: Sharp breached the rules of public appointments twice

  • The breaches relate to his failure to disclose information to the appointments panel for the role of BBC chairman concerning his relationship with the then-PM Boris Johnson

  • The first breach: Sharp informed Johnson he wished to apply for the role before he made his application

  • The second breach: Sharp assisted Johnson with a “private financial matter” in a “very limited extent” by attempting to introduce millionaire Sam Blyth to the head of the civil service, Simon Case, and informing Johnson of his intentions to do this

  • The two breaches were found to have created "a risk of perception that Sharp would not be independent from the former prime minister, if appointed"

  • The report also found there was "a risk that members of the public might form the view that Sharp was informing the prime minister of his application because he wanted him to make a recommendation to appoint him"

  • The report does not make a finding on whether Sharp actually had any intention of seeking to influence Johnson

  • For Sharp’s part, he does not believe the first breach constituted a breaking of the rules because he believed talking to Johnson at the time was like having a conversation with his current “boss” - he was a special economics adviser to the Treasury at the time

So, Johnson’s and Sharpe, bent as a nine bob note, the pair of them?

There is some satisfaction in the truth coming out but Teflon Johnson always seems to slime out of it, while other people’s reputations get destroyed

So humiliating to think of this happening in our country, never again could we criticise another country’s government for corruption, could we?

I blame the Brexiters and the Johnson Fangirls and Fanboys who refused to acknowledge the blatantly obvious and enabled this sick joke of a man be our PM

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