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Johnson’s long-term aide leaves role amid scrutiny over private sector work

Departure comes after Lord’s relationship with property firms faced scrutiny

Vincent Wood
Saturday 24 April 2021 08:12 BST
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Lord Udny-Lister had served as Mr Johnson’s chief of staff when he was London Mayor
Lord Udny-Lister had served as Mr Johnson’s chief of staff when he was London Mayor (Getty Images)

One of Boris Johnson’s closest aides is leaving his post as special envoy to the gulf after growing scrutiny around his private sector work.

Lord Udny-Lister had served as Mr Johnson’s chief of staff when he was London Mayor, and was brought into No.10 as chief strategy adviser in 2019 when he moved in to Downing Street.

More recently he took up the post of special envoy to the gulf - and was reportedly asked to investigate after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman complained the Premier League was blocking a Saudi takeover bid for Newcastle Unit.

Downing Street’s involvement in the bid to take on the club’s ownership, following a text from the crown prince sent directly to Mr Johnson, is one of a number of exchanges being scrutinised as concerns are raised around the access afforded to special interests to the upper echelons of the British government.

Meanwhile reports in The Sunday Times in February suggested the Lord had been on the payroll of two property firms while he was also working in Downing Street.

Lord Lister was paid between £140,000 and £149,000 annually in his Downing Street role while also serving as a non-executive director of Stanhope.

He was also linked to both the property developer selling the site and the firm representing Beijing when he helped broker a deal for China’s new embassy in the UK in 2017 and 2018, the paper reported. At the time he had been serving as a non-executive director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It comes after the departure of several high profile advisers from Downing Street, including comms chief Lee Cain, which was followed shortly after by Dominic Cummings.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is hugely grateful for Lord Lister’s dedicated service over many years.

“He has been an outstanding servant to the country, to the Government and to the Prime Minister when he was mayor of London.”

Additional reporting by PA

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