Politics

Boris Johnson's Tories face watchdog probe over £200,000 Downing St flat refurb


The Tory Party is facing a watchdog probe over a secret £60,000 payment made for the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, it has been reported.

The Electoral Commission said it was in touch with Conservative chairman Ben Elliot to establish whether any sums relating to the renovation works should have been declared under the law on party political donations.

The Prime Minister and Mr Elliot have denied any impropriety and said the details of the refurbishment at No11 – estimated to have cost £200,000 – will be made public in due course.

The Conservative Party said that all the party donations were correctly declared in compliance with the law.

It follows reports by the Daily Mail that about £60,000 of party funds were used to help cover the cost of refurbishing the official flat over 11 Downing Street where Mr Johnson lives with his fiancee, Carrie Symonds.



Boris Johnson denied any impropriety

Professor David Howarth, a former electoral commissioner, told the Daily Mail: “This tangled web must be unravelled. If Boris Johnson received £60,000 to refurbish his official flat either he or his party must declare it.

“A politician cannot get a large sum directly or indirectly which no one declares. It is a nonsense.”



The refurbishment is believed to have cost £200,000
The refurbishment is believed to have cost £200,000

In a statement, a commission spokeswoman said: “We are in contact with the party to establish whether any sums relating to the renovation works fall within the regime regulated by the commission.

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“If so, they would need to be reported according to the rules specified in law, and would then be published by the commission as part of our commitment to the transparency of political finance.”

Tory sources said that, like all parties, they had regular discussions with the commission.



The inquiries did not represent a formal investigation
The inquiries did not represent a formal investigation

A party spokesman said: “All reportable donations to the Conservative Party are correctly declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them and comply fully with the law.

“Gifts and benefits received in a ministerial capacity are, and will continue to be, declared in Government transparency returns.”

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton told reporters that Conservative Party funds were “not being used to pay for any refurbishment of the Downing Street estate.”

Under commission rules, all donations of more than £7,500 made to political parties between October and December last year had to be declared by January 30.

Any parties found in breach of the rules can be fined up to £20,000.

The Electoral Commission can also order criminal investigations for serious breaches, such as failing to tell the truth about donations.

In this case, the commission spokesman said the inquiries did not represent a formal investigation.





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