Boris Johnson’s new ethics counselor faces no-confidence vote on university role
Responding, Geidt said, “I absolutely appreciate what you said, Mr. McDonnell, about BAE Systems’ bottom line. But I trust, in taking on this role, the attitude of the UK government which is active in licensing the business of BAE Systems.
He added, “I was proud to do this job for a few years as it matched my previous experience and interests.”
MEPs also raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest with BAE Systems, which is a major government contractor. The company has won billions of pounds in contracts since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, including lucrative work on the Test and Trace program.
The company enjoys unprecedented access to governments. Registers compiled by Transparency International show that BAE Systems has had more meetings with ministers than any other company in the past ten years, with at least 209 meetings since 2012.
Geidt’s work for BAE Systems has been fully disclosed in his House of Lords and King’s College register of interests, and there is no indication that he broke the rules.
Academics from King’s College are also expected to vote on whether to demand that the college “publicize all its ties to the arms companies and make plans to end them quickly.”
Financial interests of ministers
As the Prime Minister’s new ethics adviser, Lord Geidt had promised to release the long-awaited register of ministerial interests – which could finally lift the veil on what donations would be made to Boris Johnson for his Downing Street renovation.
The Election Commission is currently investigating the case, saying that there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect that more than one offense may have been committed.
Boris Johnson says he has now personally covered the cost of the renovation, but questions remain as to whether wealthy Tory donors initially paid for it without details being disclosed.
The register of ministerial interests – which is supposed to be published twice a year – would normally reveal this information. But it was only released once last year, in July, and has not been updated since. This means that the whole government is breaking the transparency rules.