Politics

Boris Johnson’s flat refurbishment broke electoral law, watchdog rules


The Conservative party broke electoral laws over the controversial funding of Boris Johnson’s flat refurbishment, the Electoral Commission has ruled.

“Our investigation into the Conservative Party found that the laws around the reporting and recording of donations were not followed,” said Louise Edwards, director of regulation – announcing a £17,800 fine.

The verdict brings allegations of sleaze against the prime minister back centre-stage, as he is dogged by allegations of misleading the public over last year’s No 10 Christmas parties.

For months, Mr Johnson and other ministers refused to confirm that the Tory party, and then a major donor, originally funded the lavish redecoration.

An investigation was launched over whether the law was broken through a failure to properly declare that a gift or loan had been received for the works.

In its ruling, the Commission makes clear that the Conservatives were negligent in failing to “fully report a donation of £67,801.72 from Huntswood Associates Limited in October 2020”.

Its report says the gift included £52,801.72 connected to the costs of refurbishment to 11 Downing Street – but it was “not reported as required” in the party’s quarter 4 2020 donation report.

The reference that was made in financial records to the payment of £52,801.72 made by the party for the refurbishment was “not accurate”.

In damning comments, Ms Edwards added: “We know that voters have concerns about the transparency of funding of political parties.

“Reporting requirements are in place so that the public can see where money is coming from, inaccurate reporting risks undermining trust in the system.

“The party’s decisions and actions reflected serious failings in its compliance systems.

“As a large and well-resourced political party that employs compliance and finance experts, and that has substantial sums of money going through its accounts, the Conservative Party should have sufficiently robust systems in place to meet its legal reporting requirements.”

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