Boris Johnson’s choice of a former adviser to become the youngest to be nominated to the Lords' as a lifetime peer has been branded “absurd and staggering” over alleged discrepancies in her work history.
Charlotte Owen, 29, was a parliamentary intern to Johnson in 2017, having worked with various other Conservative politicians since 2011.
The former special adviser to the PM is one of seven people nominated by Johnson that will take seats in the House of Lords this year.
Her profile states that she worked as a special adviser for Johnson from February 2021 until October 2021.
But the annual report on special advisers, published in June 2021, does not name Owen alongside others in Number 10.
Owen’s name only appears in the same report for the following year, which states her working half for the former prime minister and half for Chris Heaton-Harris, the former chief whip.
One source - described as a former No 10 insider - told Tortoise there were “dozens of people more senior than her”, adding: “It is not what she says on her LinkedIn. She never worked in the policy unit.”
They said the peerage was “completely staggering” as Owen was “extraordinarily junior”.
Another source said the peerage was “absurd” and “at the very least there is an inconsistency in what she’s saying”.
Others who were approved for peerages include Benjamin Gascoigne, a former deputy chief of staff to the ex-prime minister, and Ross Kempsell, a former political director of the Conservative Party.
Kulveer Singh Ranger, a former director of transport while Johnson was London mayor, and former No 10 chief of staff Dan Rosenfield will also be elevated to the Lords.
When questioned about the report on Owen’s work at Number 10, a Downing Street spokesman told Yahoo News UK that they do not comment on individuals in the resignation list.
Who is Charlotte Owen?
Owen, who graduated with a 2:1 in politics and international relations, began her political career in 2011 as an intern to then-chancellor George Osborne.
She then interned within the party for six more years until securing a position in Johnson's office in 2017.
By 2018 she was a parliamentary adviser to Johnson, and in January 2020 was promoted to senior adviser, then rising to special adviser in February 2022 where she remained for the duration of his term.
It is this latter period that is the focus of the report on apparent inconsistencies.
Her last political posting was as a special adviser to Liz Truss during her brief tenure as PM last autumn.
Posting on Twitter, political journalist Olivia Utley –- who attended York University at the same time as Owen – wrote: "Charlotte Owen has gone from parliamentary intern to Baroness in 6 years, a record? (incidentally we were at uni together and no one remembers her showing any great prowess for legislative scrutiny)."
Owen will become Baroness Owen, enabling her to sit in the Lords for the rest of her life.
Charlotte Owen has gone from parliamentary intern to Baroness in 6 years, a record? 🤨 (incidentally we were at uni together and no one remembers her showing any great prowess for legislative scrutiny) pic.twitter.com/ttQ5gHaT8D
— Olivia Utley (@OliviaUtley) June 12, 2023
Other controversial appointments include Martin Reynolds, Johnson's former principal private secretary, who later earned the nickname "Party Marty" for his role in a "bring your own booze" party during the pandemic.
He also requested a CBE to former director of communications Jack Doyle, and a peerage to his chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, both of whom were in office during much of the "Partygate" time.
On Monday, the row over Johnson's list showed no sign of abating as Rishi Sunak – also fined for defying social distancing rules during lockdown – said his one-time Conservative ally asked him to “do something I wasn’t prepared to do” by overruling the Holac decisions.
“I didn’t think it was right and if people don’t like that, then tough,” Sunak said in his first comments since Johnson resigned as an MP on Friday.
Johnson announced he would stand down as an MP after he was handed a report due to be published by the parliamentary privileges committee, which has investigating whether he deliberately misled MPs over Partygate.
The committee is meeting on Monday to finalise its report into Johnson, who dismissed the inquiry as a “witch hunt” as he dramatically announced his resignation from the Commons.
The probe is thought to have ruled that Johnson lied to parliament when he told MPs that COVID rules were followed in Downing Street, despite boozy parties taking place at the time of social distancing restrictions.
The former PM said he was standing down with immediate effect, triggering a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
Watch: Rishi Sunak: Boris Johnson asked me to do something I didn't think was right