Boris Johnson ‘sent texts to Sir James Dyson saying he would “fix” tax issue for staff


Boris Johnson ‘sent texts to Sir James Dyson saying he would “fix” tax issue for billionaire inventor’s staff if they came to the UK to make ventilators during Covid pandemic’

  • Billionaire tycoon Sir James Dyson wrote an official letter to the Treasury 
  • Asked for tax status of staff to remain same if they moved to UK from Singapore 
  • But in a private text, Boris Johnson told Sir James that he ‘will fix it’ himself
  • The Prime Minister then added ‘Rishi [Sunak] says it is fixed!! We need you here’
  • Two weeks later, Rishi Sunak told MPs that those coming into UK to offer help during the pandemic would not see a change in their tax status
  • It is the latest in a string of lobbying questions facing the Conservative Party

Boris Johnson promised Sir James Dyson that tycoon’s staff would not have to pay additional tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators for the NHS, reports claim.

Sir James wrote an official letter to the Treasury asking for the tax status of his staff to remain the same if they moved from Singapore to the UK to produce vital ventilators during the pandemic.

But in a private text seen by the BBC, Boris Johnson told the billionaire tycoon that he ‘will fix it’ himself.

He then added ‘Rishi says it is fixed!! We need you here’.

Just two weeks later, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs that those coming into the UK to offer help during the pandemic would not see a change in their tax status. 

It is the latest in a string of lobbying questions facing the Conservative Party, sparked by accusations that David Cameron used his influence and contacts to lobby ministers and officials behalf of his financier boss Lex Greensill.

This included texting Mr Sunak in an unsuccessful effort to secure coronavirus loans.

Boris Johnson told the billionaire tycoon that he 'will fix' the tax issue

Boris Johnson (right) promised Sir James Dyson (left) that tycoon’s staff would not have to pay additional tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators for the NHS, reports claim

Two weeks after the text exchange, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs that those coming into the UK to offer help during the pandemic would not see a change in their tax status

Two weeks after the text exchange, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs that those coming into the UK to offer help during the pandemic would not see a change in their tax status

Text exchange between Boris Johnson and Sir James Dyson over the tax status of his employees

Dyson: ‘We are ready. But nobody seems to want us to proceed. Sadly, James’

Johnson: ‘I will fix it tomo! We need you. It looks fantastic’

Johnson: ‘Rishi says it is fixed!! We need you here’

Dyson: ‘Thanks! I will give the ventilator our all. James’

Dyson: ‘Dear Boris, I’m afraid that we need a response to our letter below from Rishi please? We really need Rishi to answer the letter we sent (attached) – now. Or to make the position clear. Rishi has fixed the Country Day Count issue but not Work Days. The former is now covered under an ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ umbrella, Work Days are not. So, he has freed up your ability to be in the UK but not to work there – even in support of this National emergency.’

Johnson: ‘James I am first lord of the treasury and you can take it that we are backing you to do what you need.’

Just two weeks later, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs that those coming into the UK to offer help during the pandemic would not see a change in their tax status.

The former-PM denies breaking any rules, but conceded he should have made approaches to ministers using more ‘formal’ channels. 

The Treasury Committee has launched an inquiry into the government’s dealings with failed finance firm Greensill Capital – with Mr Cameron, Mr Greensill and Mr Sunak all set to be grilled by MPs in person. 

Dyson played  a key role during the pandemic, working with scientists and a Cambridge-based Technology Partnership to produce 10,000 ventilators for hospitals across the country.

In messages between the PM and Sir James, the former writes: ‘We are ready. But nobody seems to want us to proceed. Sadly, James.’

Mr Johnson replies saying he will ‘fix it tomorrow’ adding: ‘We need you. It looks fantastic.’

Sir James replies saying: ‘Thanks! I will give the ventilator our all.’ 

He then adds: ‘Dear Boris, I’m afraid that we need a response to our letter below from Rishi please? 

‘We really need Rishi to answer the letter we sent (attached) – now. Or to make the position clear. 

‘Rishi has fixed the Country Day Count issue but not Work Days. 

‘The former is now covered under an ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ umbrella, Work Days are not. 

‘So, he has freed up your ability to be in the UK but not to work there – even in support of this National emergency.’

Mr Johnson reassures him, writing: ‘James I am first lord of the treasury and you can take it that we are backing you to do what you need.’

Sir James told the BBC that it was ‘absurd to suggest that the urgent correspondence was anything other than seeking compliance with rules’.

He added that his company didn’t receive ‘any benefit from the project’.

It is the latest in a string of lobbying questions facing the Conservative Party, sparked by accusations that David Cameron (pictured) used his influence and contacts to lobby ministers and officials behalf of his financier boss Lex Greensill

It is the latest in a string of lobbying questions facing the Conservative Party, sparked by accusations that David Cameron (pictured) used his influence and contacts to lobby ministers and officials behalf of his financier boss Lex Greensill 

The Treasury Committee has launched an inquiry into the government's dealings with failed finance firm Greensill Capital - with Mr Cameron , Mr Greensill (pictured) and Mr Sunak all set to be grilled by MPs in person

The Treasury Committee has launched an inquiry into the government’s dealings with failed finance firm Greensill Capital – with Mr Cameron , Mr Greensill (pictured) and Mr Sunak all set to be grilled by MPs in person

Under the ministerial code – a list of rules laying out the conduct expected by ministers – ‘a private secretary or official should be present for all discussions relating to government business’.

Should a conversation happen without an official, ‘any significant content should be passed back to the department as soon as possible after the event’.

It also states that ministers should ‘act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner’ and ‘must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias’.

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