UK opposition calls for probe into PM's flat refurbishment

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FILE PHOTO: Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arrives at Downing Street, in London

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday called for an investigation into how Prime Minister Boris Johnson funded a refurbishment of his Downing Street flat following claims by his former top adviser.

Dominic Cummings, who left Johnson's staff suddenly late last year having been his most influential adviser on Brexit and the 2019 election campaign, said in a blog on Friday he had told Johnson he thought his plans to have donors pay for the renovation were "unethical, foolish, possibly illegal."

Cummings said he was not responsible for leaks over the cost of the refurbishment and over Johnson's private communications over the sourcing of COVID-19 ventilators.

He also said the prime minister and his office had fallen below acceptable standards of competence and integrity.

Johnson's office said the government had followed the rules over the refurbishment. The prime minister had not interfered in a government leak inquiry, his office said on Friday.

Labour called for a full investigation. "It matters because it's about integrity and it's about taypayers' money," Labour leader Keir Starmer told BBC television.

"You've got the former most senior adviser to the prime minister saying he's fallen well below the standards of integrity that are needed for the office of the prime minister. Every day there's more evidence of this sleaze and frankly it stinks," he said.

Earlier Labour also called for an independent commission on ethics and standards in government to be set up.

Johnson's office had no additional comment on Saturday.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Ros Russell)