A Canadian multimillionaire, who founded a chain of Ontario private schools, acted as a guarantor for a credit facility for former British prime minister Boris Johnson, to help fund his lifestyle while he was in Downing Street.
Sam Blyth, a climbing enthusiast and founder of Blyth Academy, which has a string of private schools including in Ottawa and Toronto, is reported in the British media to have guaranteed the credit facility for Mr. Johnson in February, 2021.
He also is reported in the British media to have allowed Mr. Johnson to stay at his luxury villa in the Dominican Republic after he was ousted from office last year.
The opposition Labour Party in Britain is calling for an investigation into Mr. Johnson’s credit arrangement.
Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds has written to the parliamentary standards commissioner Daniel Greenberg, who investigates ethics issues, to see if the former prime minister breached rules governing MPs.
She referred to the MPs’ code of conduct, which says: “Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.”
The credit facility that Mr. Blyth guaranteed was listed in the British government’s internal register of ministerial interests.
Mr. Johnson’s spokesman, Ross Kempsell, told The Globe and Mail that there had been no breach of the rules.
“Boris Johnson did not take a loan from Sam Blyth,” he said. “All Boris Johnson’s financial interests are properly declared.”
Mr. Blyth, who is a distant cousin of Mr. Johnson, told The Globe that the financial arrangement was approved by the British government’s Cabinet Office and its ethics body before it was put in place.
He said reports in the British press that he guaranteed a credit facility for Mr. Johnson of up to £800,000 were exaggerated.
“The guarantee that was provided was much less than reported,” he said, but he declined to give a specific number.
Mr. Blyth, who has now sold his chain of private schools, is distantly related to Mr. Johnson through the former PM’s father, Stanley, an ex-member of the European Parliament.
He also sits as a member of the Canadian advisory board of global education company Apply Board, which facilitates study abroad. Its international chair is Jo Johnson, brother of Boris Johnson and a former education minister.
It is not known how much of the credit facility Mr. Johnson used while prime minister or afterward.
It was set up on commercial terms and Mr. Blyth has said that nothing was asked for or given by Mr. Johnson in return for the arrangement.
Twice-divorced Mr. Johnson is reported to have struggled with finances while at Downing Street, where he was earning far less than as a newspaper columnist with the Daily Telegraph, where he made around £250,000 a year, and as public speaker and author.
The Conservative former mayor of London earned £164,000 as prime minister and had two homes, including a flat in Downing Street and a country retreat at Chequers.
Mr. Johnson, former editor of the Spectator current-affairs magazine, owns homes in London and Oxfordshire. In May, 2021, he married his fiancée Carrie Symonds at Catholic Westminster Cathedral in London.
In July, 2022, the couple held a wedding reception on the Gloucestershire country estate of millionaire Conservative party donor Anthony Bamford and his wife, Carole, who spent £23,853 on the couple’s wedding party, covering costs that included flowers, a marquee and waiting staff.