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Boris Johnson stays at Caribbean villa owned by tycoon at heart of BBC chair row

Former Tory PM spent Easter at Dominican Republic home of cousin who acted as credit guarantor

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Sunday 23 April 2023 17:55 BST
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Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson (PA)

Boris Johnson is believed to have stayed at the luxury Caribbean home of his distant cousin at the heart of the row over the appointment of BBC chair Richard Sharp.

The former Tory PM and his wife Carrie spent Easter holidaying in the Dominican Republic in a villa thought to be owned by his Canadian relative Sam Blyth.

It comes as a new book found that Mr Johnson told Downing Street staff that “I am the fuhrer” and “I’m the king” amid tensions with his then-top adviser Dominic Cummings.

The ex-Tory PM stayed at a £4,100-a-night villa owned by his distant cousin, the Mirror reported after he was pictured there with his family by El Nuevo Diario.

Mr Johnson declared the use of Gatwick Airport’s luxury suite at the value £1,584 as he flew out to the Caribbean, the latest register of MPs’ interests shows.

But he has not declared any hospitality provided by Mr Blyth, and did not do so after a previous stay as a guest of his cousin. It is understood he does not believe it is necessary because he is staying with family.

A spokesperson for Mr Johnson said: “We don’t comment on travel. All of Boris Johnson’s interests are properly registered and declared.”

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said Mr Johnson “is utterly shameless”, adding: “The constant stream of sleaze and scandal surrounding him is hindering public trust in politics. He doesn’t deserve to be an MP; the sooner he is out of parliament, the better.”

Former No 10 adviser Mr Cummings told authors of a new book, Johnson at 10, Anthony Seldon and Raymond Newell, that Mr Johnson said: “I am the fuhrer. I’m the king who takes the decisions.”

Boris Johnson with wife Carrie (Getty Images)

Michael Gove told the authors that Mr Johnson fell out with Mr Cummings because the PM had grown tired of being treated like a “young and inexperienced king”.

A spokesperson for the former PM told The Times, which serialised the book, said it was “the usual malevolent and sexist twaddle” from anti-Johnson adversaries.

It comes as Ms Sharp – given the top BBC job without disclosing to MPs he had facilitated discussions with Mr Blyth over an £800,000 loan guarantee for Mr Johnson – comes under renewed pressure.

The public appointments commission is investigating whether rules were followed in giving after Mr Sharp failed to share with MPs details of his involvement in initial talks about the offer of help for Mr Johnson.

Senior managers at the corporation believe Mr Sharp’s position as chair is untenable ahead of the commission’s report, according to The Sunday Times – with sources saying managing the scandal had become his “full-time job”.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We don’t recognise that assertion, and Richard is a very able chair of the BBC,” they said. Despite briefings against Mr Sharp from some managers, The Independent understands the chair also has strong support within the BBC.

MPs on the culture committee branded Mr Sharp guilty of “significant errors of judgement” by failing to declare his role in facilitating talks about the loan at the end of 2020 before he was named BBC chair in February 2021.

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