No. 10 Downing Street on Thursday announced an inquiry into the leak of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s texts that led to accusations of preferential treatment.
According to the BBC, in a text exchange last March, Johnson personally promised Sir James Dyson he would “fix” an issue over the tax status of his employees at Dyson Ltd. after he was directly lobbied by the entrepreneur.
During a news briefing in Westminster on Thursday, the PM’s spokesman confirmed that No. 10 had instructed the Cabinet Office to look into the leak.
“The position has changed from yesterday,” he said. “It was correct at the time yesterday but, as usual, we keep things under review, and we have now decided to undertake this internal inquiry.
“As you would expect, we continually look at this and the position we decided today is that we want to make sure we have this internal inquiry into that.”
Johnson was accused of giving favours to his rich friends, but he said he would give “absolutely no apology at all” for doing all he could to secure ventilators for the National Health Service (NHS), which were in short supply during the early stages of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
“We had 9,000 ventilators in this country, Mr. Speaker. We secured 22,000 as a result of that ventilator challenge. I think it was entirely the right thing to do—to work with all potential makers of ventilators at that time,” he said.
The text exchange took place last March, when the UK government was appealing to companies to supply ventilators to help the NHS fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sir James, whose firm is now based in Singapore, wanted an assurance that his staff would not have to pay additional tax if they came to the UK to work on the project.
James told Sky News it was “absurd to suggest that the urgent correspondence was anything other than seeking compliance with rules.”
He said that the ventilator cost Dyson £20 million ($28 million), which was “freely given to the national cause.”
Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith on Tuesday called on No. 10 to examine the leak and to refer the case to the National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove.
“This begs the question, what is happening to government security?” Duncan Smith said to Politics Home.
“There definitely now needs to be a proper review of ministerial use of private communication systems. People don’t take it seriously.”
Alexander Zhang contributed to this report.