Sir James Dyson denies attempt to ‘extract favours’ from Boris Johnson

The billionaire has been embroiled in a row over lobbying after exchanges between the PM and Dyson were revealed.

Inventor Sir James Dyson has rejected suggestions that he attempted to "extract favours" from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying the accusations are “completely untrue”.

Sir James has found himself at the centre of a lobbying row after Mr Johnson reportedly promised Sir James he would "fix" an issue over the tax status of his employees after he was directly lobbied by the entrepreneur.

The exchanges between the pair, revealed by the BBC, took place in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic when the government was appealing for firms to supply ventilators.

Entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has found himself at the centre of a lobbying scandal.Entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has found himself at the centre of a lobbying scandal.
Entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has found himself at the centre of a lobbying scandal.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Sir James rejected characterisation as someone abusing his position of power, saying:

"(The) characterisation of me as a prominent Conservative donor, or supporter, leveraging a position of power to extract favours from the Prime Minister, is completely untrue.

"I would change nothing about how Dyson reacted to this country's Covid crisis. And you need only look at the UK's vaccine programme to understand the value of independent action which can be swift, decisive and transcend global boundaries.

"Thousands of companies and millions of individuals have gone above and beyond in responding to this crisis. This should not be diminished by politically motivated mud-slinging after the event."

On the question of his employees’ tax status, Sir James said the company “wrote formally to the Chancellor on March 15 for clarification on how UK tax rules would apply" during the pandemic period when Dyson began developing ventilators for the NHS.

"We did not wait for a response and started work immediately," he added.

Sir James added he was not seeking favours, and said his Singapore-headquartered firm passed up the opportunity of remuneration for the work.

He requested that overseas staff would not have to pay additional tax if they came to the UK to work on the ventilator project in a letter to the Treasury, but after receiving no reply, took up the case with Johnson directly.

He said in a text that the firm was ready but that "sadly" it seemed no-one wanted them to proceed, to which Mr Johnson replied: "I will fix it tomo! We need you. It looks fantastic."

The Prime Minister then texted him again saying: "(Chancellor) Rishi (Sunak) says it is fixed!! We need you here."

Additional reporting by PA

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