Boris Johnson under fire over expenses-paid £14k Saudi Arabia trip

Former UK foreign secretary visited Jeddah days before Jamal Khashoggi murder

Boris Johnson accepted a £14,000 trip to Saudi Arabia from the country’s foreign affairs ministry only a few days before the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered in the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

Fresh disclosures in the register of members’ interests reveal that the former foreign secretary visited Jeddah on a three-day trip in September, where travel, food and accommodation were all provided for him.

A source close to Johnson said he had “visited Saudi Arabia to discuss his long-standing campaign of improving education for women and girls” during the trip from 19 to 21 September.

Khashoggi, a journalist with the Washington Post and a critic of the Saudi regime, was killed on 2 October in a premeditated killing involving 18 suspects. It has raised questions about whether the country’s ruling crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was aware of the plan.

The Johnson source said the Conservative MP has “denounced the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and continues to believe that the UK must hold Saudi Arabia to account for this barbaric act”. Taxpayer funds were not used on the trip.

Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow minister for the cabinet office, said: “This is yet another reminder of how far the Tories’ cosy relationship with the murderous Saudi regime extends.”

The updated register also revealed that Johnson had accepted a £50,000 donation from Jon Wood, who founded the hedge fund SRG global, at the beginning of October to pay for office and staffing costs.

Wood, a Tory donor, once took legal action against the then Labour government after it nationalised Northern Rock at the time of financial crisis at a time when he was an investor in it.

Johnson also earns £275,000 a year from his Daily Telegraph column, which he took up after quitting the government over Theresa May’s Brexit policy last July. He has repeatedly criticised her approach since but declined to mount a formal leadership challenge.


Dan Sabbagh

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for Saudi Arabia comments
Foreign secretary hits out at critics in the Conservative party on visit to Bahrain after outcry over ‘proxy wars’ remarks

Peter Walker, Heather Stewart and Jessica Elgot

09, Dec, 2016 @6:31 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson plans Saudi Arabia visit to seek oil supply increase
MPs voice deep concerns over trip after mass execution by regime and its continuing role in Yemen war

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

14, Mar, 2022 @3:16 PM

Article image
Saudi Arabia to hit back in case of sanctions over Jamal Khashoggi
JP Morgan and Ford join ranks of companies pulling out of Saudi conference as UK, Germany and France call for credible investigation

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

15, Oct, 2018 @4:48 AM

Article image
Khashoggi case is test for UK-Saudi relationship | Patrick Wintour
UK argues proximity secures influence but it faces acute dilemma over suspected killing

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

10, Oct, 2018 @3:40 PM

Article image
Saudi Arabia row could wreck attempts to end Yemen conflict, MPs told
Boris Johnson’s controversial criticism of Saudi ‘puppeteering’ leaves UK’s role as honest broker under threat, says Keith Vaz

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

12, Dec, 2016 @7:47 PM

Article image
Allies defend Boris Johnson after No 10 disowns Saudi remarks
Several Conservatives speak up for gaffe-prone foreign secretary, saying May should not have been so quick to issue slapdown

Heather Stewart, Rowena Mason and Jessica Elgot

08, Dec, 2016 @9:12 PM

Article image
UK piles pressure on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi killing
Jeremy Hunt will attempt to encourage Saudi authorities to cooperate with Turkish investigation

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

12, Nov, 2018 @7:56 AM

Article image
Corbyn: May must back up 'warm words' on Saudi Arabia with action
Labour leader challenges PM’s portrayal of a ‘robust’ conversation on Yemen and Jamal Khashoggi at G20 summit

Jessica Elgot

03, Dec, 2018 @4:38 PM

Article image
Saudi crown prince asked Boris Johnson to intervene in Newcastle United bid
Mohammed bin Salman warned of damage to relations with UK if Premier League refusal not ‘corrected’

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

15, Apr, 2021 @1:14 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson Saudi Arabia comments misreported, says Fallon
Defence secretary dodges question about whether No 10, which chastised foreign secretary, agreed or disagreed with him

Peter Walker Political correspondent

11, Dec, 2016 @11:47 AM