Official Watchdog Asks Boris Johnson If He's The Daily Mail's New Columnist

Former ministers are supposed to ask permission before accepting a new job.
Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

If Boris Johnson is the Daily Mail’s new mystery columnist, he appears to have forgotten to ask permission from the official watchdog.

The newspaper teased its new “erudite” writer on its front page on Friday alongside a familiar silhouette.

According to Politico, Johnson will be paid a “very high six-figure sum” to deliver weekly columns.

But former ministers who have left the government in the last two years must apply to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) before accepting a new job.

Acoba chairman Lord Eric Pickles is writing to the ex-prime minister to clarify whether he is the mystery columnist.

An Acoba spokeswoman said: “We haven’t had an application and we will be writing to Mr Johnson.”

The purpose of the rule is to avoid “any suspicion that an appointment might be a reward for past favours”.

It is also to stop the risk that an employer “might gain an improper advantage by appointing a former official who holds information about its competitors, or about impending government policy”.

Or the risk of a former minister “improperly exploiting privileged access to contacts in government”.

Johnson quit as an MP after learning the Commons privileges committee had found him guilty of lying to parliament over partygate.

MPs will vote on Monday whether to approve the committee’s report which said Johnson should have faced a 90-day suspension had he not already resigned.

The cross-party group also wants Johnson banned from holding a pass to access parliament.

The sanctions proposed by the Tory-majority committee are expected to pass, with only a relatively small group of Johnson loyalists set to oppose the report’s findings, although many more Conservatives could simply not turn up.


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