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Conservatives get slapped on the wrist over £67,8,000 refurbishment of Johnson’s Downing Street flat

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Boris Johnson was at the center of another sleaze today as Conservatives were fined for failing to disclose a five-figure cash donation from a businessman used to renovate the Prime Minister’s flat in Downing Street.

The Electoral Commission has fined the Tories £17,800 for misrepresenting the money they received from Lord Brownlow for the refurbishment of the private quarters by Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and their son Wilfred had indicated.

The money came from Huntwood Associates, a company run by Tory donor Lord Brownlow, but was not indicated as a donation to the party or in the Prime Minister’s personal statement of interest.

The Electoral Commission found that the Conservative party failed to ‘fully report’ a donation of £67,801.72 most of which was related to the refurbishment of the flat at 11 Downing Street, where Boris Johnson lives.

The outcome of the inquiry is also likely to lead to a new inquiry by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone.

The committee’s investigation found that decisions regarding the handling and registration of the donation reflected “serious deficiencies in the party’s compliance systems.”

A fine of £17,800 was imposed for ‘failing to properly report a donation and keep good books’.

Louise Edwards, director of regulation at the Election Commission, said: “The party’s decisions and actions reflect serious shortcomings in its compliance systems.

“As a large and well-resourced political party that employs compliance and financial experts, and has significant sums of money in its accounts, the Conservative Party should have robust enough systems in place to meet its regulatory reporting requirements.”

The Election Commission fined the Conservatives £17,800 for failing to declare correctly nearly £68,000, largely used for the renovation of the private quarters used by Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and their son Wilfred.

The committee's investigation found that decisions regarding the handling and registration of the donation reflected

The committee’s investigation found that decisions regarding the handling and registration of the donation reflected “serious deficiencies in the party’s compliance systems.”

The Daily Mail revealed details of the lavish apartment refurbishment shared by the prime minister and his then-fiancée in March.

No11’s revamp by pricier designer Lulu Lytle is said to include gold wallcoverings.

But funding for the work did not appear in the list of political donations published by the Commission or in Mr Johnson’s register of interests in the House of Commons.

It prompted the Labor Party to demand a full investigation into how the extravagant work was paid for and whether any rules were being broken.

The Election Commission said Huntswood Associates transferred £67,801.72 to the Conservative Party on 19 October 2020.

About £15,000 of that amount was for an event, but the committee said it “specifically identified the remaining £52,801.72 as a donation to cover an earlier payment of that value by the party to the Cabinet Office”.

The Cabinet Office had paid three bills in the summer of 2020, totaling the same amount, for the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s flat at 11 Downing Street, and these were made with an agreement that the amount would be reimbursed by the party.

But the committee said that in the donation records submitted on January 27, 2021, while the party reported Huntswood Associates’ £15,000, it failed to report the £52,801.72.

The committee also concluded that the reference in the party’s financial records to the payment of £52,801.72 made by the party for the refurbishment was incorrect as it was referred to as a ‘blind trust loan’.

However, no confidence had been created to refurbish the flat.

The Tories are considering appealing the Electoral Commission fine over the donation related to the renovation of Boris Johnson’s flat.

A party spokesman said: “The Conservative Party has received a message from the Electoral Commission that, in their opinion, the manner in which a payment was reported was a technical violation of reporting obligations under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act.

“We have been in constant contact with the Election Commission on this matter and have taken their advice on how to report the transaction since it was made.

“We are considering whether to appeal this decision and will make a decision within 28 working days.”

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