The official elections watchdog has contacted the Tory Party over a reported payment for the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, it’s 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.
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”.
But the commission is questioning the party following reports in the Daily Mail that around £60k of party funds went towards the cost of refurbishing the official flat over 11 Downing Street.
The refurbishment of the flat, where Johnson lives with his fiancee Carrie Symonds, has cost a reported £200k. As of March 2020, the average price for flats in England was £226k.
In a statement, a commission spokesperson 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.
Response from the Tory party
Tory sources said that, like all parties, they had regular discussions with the commission.
A party spokesperson 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.
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.