Guardian News and Media /London
Boris Johnson has offered MPs a “full and unreserved apology” over the late declaration of more than £52,000 in income.
He made the apology to the House of Commons having been told to do so after he repeatedly failed to register payments from his newspaper column and books within the set time limit.
In a report, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, said that the former foreign secretary admitted he had failed to register payments in time on nine occasions in the previous 12 months.
The report recommended that Johnson make an apology to the Commons on a point of order.
Stone said that while the Conservative MP had fully co-operated and promised to address the issue, the amount of money registered late – almost £53,000, or about 70% of his MP’s’ salary – and the number of times it had happened “suggested a lack of attention to the house’s requirements, rather than inadvertent error”.
Under parliamentary rules, MPs are allowed to earn money beyond their official duties but authorities must be notified within 28 days so it can be entered into the register of MPs’ financial interests.
Stone’s report said that in October she received a letter of complaint about Johnson’s weekly column in the Daily Telegraph, for which he is paid nearly £23,000 a month and which he resumed after quitting the Cabinet in July, saying this did not seem to have been properly registered.
The letter added that this was “by no means the first time within the past year or so that there has been a failure on his part to comply with the rules”.
After she contacted the MP, Johnson wrote in response that he had been late in registering nine payments in the register of interests, as it stood on October 1.
The errors, Johnson wrote to her, were “primarily the result of a delay in up-to-date financial statements being received and duly processed and declared”.
In her report, Stone noted that most of the late elements were for sums which “might reasonably be regarded as unpredictable”, such as royalties for the several books Johnson has written.
She said: “However, these payments cannot have been entirely unexpected and, given that the house has made explicit that it expects members to fulfil their responsibilities conscientiously, it would have been prudent for Johnson to have had an administrative system in place to ensure his compliance with those rules. It appears that he did not arrange that until after I had begun my inquiry.”
Johnson had now assured her he had a system in place to prevent this happening again, Stone added. The totals involved with the nine late-registered payments was £52,722.80, the report said.
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