‘Unwise’ Boris Johnson is CLEARED of breaking the ministerial code over Wallpaper-gate but gets a slap on the wrist as standards adviser criticises ‘significant failings’ over £90,000 No11 flat overhaul
The government’s new standards adviser today slammed ‘significant failings’ over the £90,000 No11 flat refurbishment – but cleared Boris Johnson of breaking the ministerial code.
Lord Geidt criticised the handling of a planned trust to fund the overhaul of the PM’s grace and favour flat, saying it was not subject to ‘rigorous project management by officials’.
In a long-awaited report to accompany the latest register of interests, the peer said: ‘Given the level of the Prime Minister’s expectations for the Trust to deliver on the objects he had set, this was a significant failing.
‘Instead, the Prime Minister – unwisely, in my view – allowed the refurbishment of the apartment at No 11 Downing Street to proceed without more rigorous regard for how this would be funded.’
However, the new adviser on ministerial interests said the trust was a ‘genuine endeavour’.
Ordering a note to be added to the latest register of interests, he said they ‘present no actual or perceived conflict’.
‘I consider them to be consistent with the provisions of the Ministerial Code,’ he added.
The PM and Carrie Symonds face the prospect of handing over emails and phone messages in a separate investigation by the Electoral Commission
The government’s new standards adviser today slammed ‘significant failings’ over the No11 flat refurbishment – but cleared Boris Johnson (pictured) of breaking the ministerial code
Pictured: A design by Lulu Lytle, who is believed to have carried out the refurbishment
The row was sparked by a string of revelations in the Mail over the £58,000 cost overrun being originally paid by the Conservative Party before being covered by Tory donor Lord Brownlow.
PMs have an annual allowance for improvements to their residence, and sources told MailOnline that the £30,000 available for 2020-21 was the only public funding used for the refurb.
Lord Geidt – former private secretary to the Queen – was appointed at the end of last month and immediately handed the task of ‘ascertaining the facts’ surrounding the renovation of the 11 Downing Street flat and advising Mr Johnson ‘on any further registration of interests that may be needed’.
The post had been vacant since Sir Alex Allan resigned in November in response to Mr Johnson standing by Priti Patel, despite an investigation finding the Home Secretary’s conduct ‘amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying’.
The Electoral Commission has launched a separate probe into whether the Conservative Party might have broken electoral law over its part in the funding arrangements.
Labour MPs have also asked the parliamentary commissioner for standards to look into the issues raised and whether any rules been broken.
Mr Johnson has previously been warned by the Commons standards committee for failing to declare interests.
In 2019, after he made public apologies, he was told he would face a more ‘serious sanction’ if he breached the rules again. That could potentially mean a recommendation of suspension, although it would need to be approved by the whole House.
The new list of ministerial interests refers to the No11 funding row, but says the interests are not ‘current’
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