Elections watchdog contacts Tories over Boris Johnson’s Downing St flat revamp

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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.

£200k renovation

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:

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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.

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