July 4, 2020 / 5:15 PM / a month ago

British PM's father defends trip to Greece despite COVID-19 advisory

LONDON (Reuters) - The father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday defended his decision to fly to Greece even though at that time the government advice was for UK nationals to avoid all but essential international travel.

FILE PHOTO: Stanley Johnson, father of Boris Johnson, arrives at a hustings event with Britain's Conservative Party leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, in Exeter, Britain, June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

Greek government officials confirmed on Thursday that Stanley Johnson had arrived, likely via Bulgaria, in the northern region of Pelion, where he has a holiday home.

Johnson told reporters he was on a business trip.

“I don’t know what the reaction of the British public (has been), I came here to have a quiet time to organise the house,” he said in comments to local reporters carried by Sky News, referring to measures to make the property COVID-19 secure for lettings.

“I’ve just got one week to get everything organised. I’ve got a whole lot of instructions about how to make the place COVID-proof,” he said, noting he planned to return to the UK on July 10.

On Friday, Britain’s foreign ministry set out exemptions from a global advisory against “all but essential” international travel, to take effect from Saturday. That list includes Greece.

Johnson said photos he posted on his Instagram account on the outward leg of his trip were not put up “in a spirit of defiance or anything like that.”

Boris Johnson was asked about his father’s trip on Friday.

“I think you really ought to raise that with him,” he told LBC radio.

Details that emerged in May of a long road trip at the height of the UK coronavirus lockdown by Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s senior adviser, provoked outrage across the country.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Frances Kerry

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