The PM’s brother did not join Dyson days after tax texts – Full Fact


7 May 2021

What was claimed

Jo Johnson became a director at Dyson a week after his brother Boris Johnson said in a series of texts that he would fix a tax issue that might have affected the company’s staff.

Our verdict

Jo Johnson became a director of the Dyson Institute for Engineering and Technology which is not the same at the Dyson engineering company itself, on 18 February, before his brother’s text exchange.

A number of posts on Facebook have claimed that the Prime Minister’s brother, Jo Johnson, was made a director at Dyson the week after the Prime Minister told the company’s Chief Engineer he had fixed a tax issue in a series of leaked text messages

This is not the job that Jo Johnson got, and he was appointed before those texts were sent.

It’s true that the former MP and minister, now Lord Johnson, was appointed a director of Dyson Technical Training Limited on 18 February 2020. Dyson Technical Training Limited is an education provider, and is the parent company and legal entity of the Dyson Institute for Engineering and Technology. This institute opened in 2017 and provides engineering apprenticeship degrees. Dyson told us the institute has no connection to the board of Dyson, the company.

Parliament’s register of member’s interests also lists Jo Johnson as a member of the council of the institute itself and a non-executive director. This is a paid part-time position. Dyson told Full Fact that the Dyson Technical Training and the Dyson Institute of Technology and Engineering are the same thing.

A number of viral posts highlight that the date on some of the paperwork for his appointment to Dyson Technical Training Limited is 24 April 2020. As the screenshots show, that is the date the information was “Received for filing in Electronic Format”. Companies House clearly states that he was actually appointed before that, on 18 February 2020.

Because Lord Johnson had been a minister in the two years before his appointment, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) wrote an advice letter in April 2020 on what it considered to be the conditions of him taking up the role. ACOBA is an advisory body and cannot enforce its recommendations. It recommended that he shouldn’t personally lobby the government as part of this work for two years following his last day in office. Nor should he draw on any “privileged information” gained while in office, or advise on any work with the UK government. It’s true that Sir James Dyson and the Prime Minister exchanged text messages around 26 March 2020. In these, Boris Johnson appears to tell Sir James that employees at the Singapore-based firm would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to work on making ventilators.

There had been contact between Sir James Dyson and Jo Johnson long before the pandemic. The Dyson Institute’s website says: “In 2016, James asked the then Minister for Universities – Jo Johnson MP – what the UK government was doing about the engineering skills crisis. Jo responded with a challenge; that James should set up his own higher education provider for aspiring engineers.”

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here.

For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false
because he works for the Dyson Institute, not the company itself, and he was appointed before the texts were sent.

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