Boris Johnson has acknowledged taking a complimentary vacation at a lavish Spanish home related to Zac Goldsmith, the former MP who was bestowed with a peerage and a position by the prime minister. According to the most recent update to the register of ministerial interests, Johnson’s nearly week-long stay at the Marbella villa in October was paid for by the Goldsmith family.
It did not indicate how much the vacation cost, but it is expected that this will be recorded separately in the register of MPs’ interests. The apartment is advertised for rent online, purportedly for as much as £25,000 per week. According to the register, “the prime minister has a longtime personal acquaintance with the Goldsmith family and, in that capacity, stayed in a holiday property in southern Spain provided free of charge by the Goldsmiths in October 2021.”
The arrangement has been declared because Lord Goldsmith is a minister of the crown. “No 10 has previously declined to answer questions about whether there could be a perceived conflict of interest, given that Johnson awarded Goldsmith a peerage after the latter lost his Richmond seat in 2019, and allowed him to keep his job as an environment minister.” Following the holiday, the Guardian found that the luxury Goldsmith family villa was held by an opaque offshore entity based in various tax-havens.
According to the papers, the minister and his family may have owned the property through a Maltese business owned by companies in the Turks and Caicos Islands and administered by a Swiss wealth-planning agency. Goldsmith’s spokeswoman noted at the time that he had “followed the process of the ministerial interest outlined in the ministerial code.” “His interests have been examined by the Cabinet Office and the prime minister’s independent ministerial interests adviser,” she added.
Other relevant interests have been properly stated following the House of Lords’ code of conduct.” Johnson took the vacation during an unusual parliamentary hiatus following party conference season, and No. 10 was forced to defend his decision to travel abroad during an energy and supply chain crisis. No. 10 refused to disclose that Goldsmith was paying for the holiday in Marbella or explain how the prime minister had traveled to Spain with his family at the time.