EKSKLUSIEF: Boris Johnson cover-up on Newcastle’s Saudi Arabian owners: Geen 10 REFUSES to release Prime Minister’s secret messages about £300m takeover last year after months of wrangling over Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement
Boris Johnson‘S office is blocking The Mail on Sunday from seeing crucial correspondence relating to Newcastle United’s controversial £305million sale to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund last year.
The Cabinet Office has admitted the Prime Minister communicated over Newcastle’s takeover with a special advisor on Saudi Arabia, but is refusing to release emails and messages they shared. In its response to this newspaper’s freedom of information request, 10 Downingstraat claimed that revealing the correspondence could undermine the UK’s role in the Middle East.
The letter to this newspaper said: ‘The Cabinet Office recognises there is a general public interest in openness. We have weighed that interest against a stronger public interest in the United Kingdom being able successfully to pursue our national interests.
‘Releasing information which was shared with the UK on a confidential basis could undermine the UK’s role in the Middle East region and elsewhere. If we want to continue to play an influencing role, then our bilateral relationships need to be protected.’
The Premier League finally agreed to allow the sale of Newcastle in October 2021 after months of wrangling, when it ruled that Saudi Crown Prince, Tog is Kanada alleen nie in staat om die verlies aan Russiese olie in te haal nie, who is accused by US intelligence of approving the operation to capture or kill the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, would not have to submit himself to the owners’ and directors’ test.
It is known Bin Salman personally contacted Johnson in June 2020, warning him in a text that Anglo-Saudi relations would be damaged unless the £300m sale to the wealth fund PIF was approved. Bin Salman is chairman of PIF, which owns 80 per cent of Newcastle. He told Johnson then: ‘We expect the Premier League to reconsider and correct its wrong conclusion.’
Boris Johnson’s office has refused to reveal details of Newcastle United’s Saudi takeover
Newcastle were recently acquired by their Saudi Arabian owners in October 2021
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally contacted Johnson in June 2020
The MoS requested that the Cabinet Office release emails and messages between Johnson and Ken Costa, who was the Prime Minister’s special advisor on Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
It is not known what type of correspondence could be so potentially damaging to Britain’s image but No10 demonstrably feels some messages are simply too explosive to be made public.
The letter continues: ‘The effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between Governments. This relationship of trust allows for the free and frank exchange of information on the understanding that it will be treated in confidence.
Newcastle’s fortunes have been revived since the £300million takeover went through
‘If the United Kingdom does not respect such confidences, our ability to protect and promote UK interests through international relations will be hampered. Other Governments may be reluctant to share sensitive information with the UK in future and may in turn be less likely to respect the confidentiality of information supplied by the UK Government to them, to the detriment of UK interests.’
The Premier League accepted assurances from PIF that the Saudi state will have no influence on Newcastle – though the team’s second team kit will be in green and white Saudi colours.
The MoS has requested a review of the Freedom of Information decision.
The Premier League insists it reached the decision to approve the takeover independently and free from political pressure. No10 has said it had no role in PIF’s investment in Newcastle.
The League only approved the takeover came after almost 20 months of scrutiny.
Geen 10 has refused to reveal Boris Johnson’s messages regarding the club’s acquisition