Boris Johnson let off the hook over ‘clear breach of rules’ over Daily Mail column

‘Here we go again. There is no real democracy without real accountability.’

Boris Johnson scratching his head

The former prime minister will not face action despite having been found to have committed a ‘clear and unambiguous breach’ of the rules over his column in the Daily Mail.

Johnson had sparked a backlash when, in June, he gave Parliament’s anti-corruption watchdog just 30 minutes’ notice that he had taken a job as a columnist for the Daily Mail.

Under Parliamentary rules, former ministers are forbidden to take up new appointments, prior to receiving advice from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba). They must consult Acoba on any jobs they take within two years of leaving government.

Lord Pickles, Acoba chairman, said Johnson had ‘clearly flouted the rules,’ but said it was up to the government to take action. Pickles had also called for urgent reform of the ‘good chaps’ approach to ministerial jobs.

In a reply to Lord Pickles’ letter, Oliver Dowden acknowledged that Johnson had breached the rules. However, the deputy PM said it would be ‘disproportionate to undertake further action in these circumstances.’    

“The Cabinet Office accepts the committee’s assessment, and notes that the risks surrounding media appointments are limited and typically subject to the conditions that former ministers are already required to abide by following their departure from office,” said Dowden.

Johnson was unveiled as a Daily Mail columnist after he quit as an MP days before a ruling by a Parliamentary committee found that he lied to MPs over Partygate.

He is reportedly paid £1m a year for his weekly column in the right-wing newspaper.

News that the former prime minister would avoid punishment of a ‘clear breach’ of rules with his column sparked criticism online.

“Here we go again. There is no real democracy without real accountability,” wrote on X user.

“It would be disproportionate to undertake further action as he is a Tory,” posted another.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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