Downing Street flat row: PM’s letters with standards adviser to be published

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  • Boris Johnson
    Boris Johnson
    Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2019
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to a Covid vaccination centre (Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to a Covid vaccination centre (Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph/PA) (PA Wire)

Letters between Boris Johnson and his independent standards adviser about the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat will reportedly be published next month.

The Prime Minister is set to be cleared of breaking the ministerial code and misleading his adviser, Lord Geidt, on who paid for the flat’s refurbishment, according to reports.

Lord Geidt had cleared Mr Johnson of a conflict of interest in May after it emerged Conservative peer Lord Brownlow had donated £52,000 towards the refurbishment of the flat above No 11 Downing Street.

However, the investigation was revisited after an Electoral Commission probe revealed WhatsApp messages between Mr Johnson and Lord Brownlow.

The Financial Times reported that Lord Geidt will clear Mr Johnson of breaking ministerial code rules over the flat refurb, and of misleading him.

However, the paper said the PM’s conduct will be “criticised”, citing sources with knowledge of the investigation.

BBC reports that letters exchanged between the prime minister and his adviser on the subject will be published next month.

Labour’s Angela Rayner told the Financial Times: “After the Electoral Commission ruled that the Conservative party broke the law on declaring donations, the prime minister has made a mockery of the standards the public has a right to expect”.

The latest investigation came after the Electoral Commission found Brownlow’s donation was not declared properly and fined the Conservative Party £17,800.

In May, the investigation found Mr Johnson appeared not to be aware the donation came from Lord Brownlow personally, and that he only knew after it was revealed in the media.

However during the course of its investigation, the Electoral Commission published WhatsApp messages between Mr Johnson and the donor, in which Mr Johnson appeared to ask for more money.

The messages suggest that the prime minister did know who paid for the refurbishment.

A spokesman said Mr Johnson believed Lord Brownlow was overseeing the money, but he did not realise it was being personally donated by him.

According to the terms of reference for the inquiry, Lord Geidt’s recommendations to the Prime Minister will be published in a “timely manner”.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson told the Financial Times it does not comment on “speculation”.

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