Thursday, 8 Dec 2022

PM’s judgement questioned over Chief of Staff payment U-turn

Andrew Marr says some Tory MPs are planning to oust Liz Truss

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Mr Fullbrook’s employment arrangement meant that his salary was paid to him by his own lobbying firm instead of via Downing Street’s payroll. Many have speculated that such an arrangement may have given him tax benefits by receiving pay from Fullbrook Strategies.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng retracted IR35 rules as part of his budget last week which were brought in to prevent people paying themselves via companies instead of on payroll to minimise tax.

A spokesperson from Fullbrook Strategies told The Guardian: “This is not an unusual arrangement.

“It was not put in place for tax purposes and Mr Fullbrook derives no tax benefit from it.”

While the payment arrangement has been cleared by the Government’s ethics team, the TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We’d all like to be the judge of that but it’s not even transparent. What is going on?”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “All Government employees are subject to the necessary checks and vetting, and all special advisers declare their interests in line with Cabinet Office guidance.

“The Government will pay the salary of an employee on secondment, including costs such as employers’ national insurance contributions, to the seconding company.

“This has been cleared by the propriety and ethics team in Cabinet Office.”

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Angela Rayner said the arrangement raised “serious questions about the new Prime Minister’s judgement.”

Sources close to the U-turn have suggested the payment plan was scrapped so it did not detract from important governmental work.

Despite the U-turn, it remains unclear why Mr Fullbrook was employed under such an arrangement in the first place.

Mr Fullbrook is already facing issues surrounding trust after it was revealed he was questioned as a witness by the FBI into alleged bribery in Puerto Rico.

His spokesperson said: “Mr Fullbrook is committed to and complies with all laws and regulations in any jurisdiction in which he works and is confident that he has done so in this matter.

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“Indeed, Mark Fullbrook is a witness in this matter and has fully, completely and voluntarily engaged with the US authorities in this matter, as he would always do in any circumstance in which his assistance is sought by authorities.”

The Chief of Staff also ensured that as a top aide he brought senior staff from his lobbying firm into Number 10.

Two senior advisory positions have been awarded to Mac Chapwell and Alice Robinson who are both founding members of Fullbrook Strategies.

With no prior governmental experience, many members of Parliament criticise the position Liz Truss has given Mr Fullbrook.

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