Elections watchdog contacts Tories over Downing St flat revamp

Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor
·2-min read

The official elections watchdog has contacted the Tory Party over a reported payment made for the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, it has been disclosed.

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

In response, the Conservative Party said that all reportable donations were correctly declared in compliance with the law.

It follows reports by the Daily Mail that round £60,000 of party funds were used to help cover the reported £200,000 cost of refurbishing the official flat over 11 Downing Street where Mr Johnson lives with his fiancee, Carrie Symonds.

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.

“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.

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.”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “The Prime Minister cannot keep on dodging questions about the redecoration of his flat in Downing Street.

“The British people have a right to know how much money has been spent and where that money came from.”

“Given the Government’s track record of handing out contracts to Conservative Party donors and cronies, if the money to pay for this work has indeed come from donors then the public will rightly be demanding answers over what access and special favours these donors may well be expecting in return.”