BORIS JOHNSON may have to hand over personal emails and phone messages in the controversial Downing Street refurbishment enquiry.
Boris Johnson may have to hand over personal emails and phone messages in the controversial Downing Street refurbishment enquiry.
There is growing pressure on Boris Johnson following the Electoral Commission announcement that it would hold a formal investigation into how his Downing Street flat refurbishment was funded.
The spending watchdog has the power to interview witnesses and to demand documents, it has now said it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect there may have been an offence committed.
Johnson has insisted that he would be happy to assist the commission with its enquiries and that he has not broken any laws with the flat renovations. However, according to a Government source, Downing Street is concerned that “there could be a paper trail” at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ).
Sir Kier Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, said the investigation could be completed “in five minutes” if the PM would reveal “who paid for it in the first place.”
“He’s got the Cabinet Secretary doing an investigation, got the Electoral Commission doing an investigation,” Sir Kier told ITV’s Robert Peston. “Those investigations could be over in five minutes if the Prime Minister just answered the question, who paid for it in the first place?”
It has been alleged that the refurbishment was paid for by a donation from Tory peer, Lord Brownlow, to conservative campaign headquarters (CCHQ) and then to Johnson.
No 10 have not denied the donation or loan arrangement, but have insisted that: “Conservative party funds are not being used to pay for the Downing Street flat.”
When challenged by Sir Kier at Prime Ministers Questions, Johnson said he “personally” paid for the renovations and has refused to answer whether he received an initial loan from the Conservative Party.
Johnson’s former chief of staff, Dominic Cummings, claimed on Friday that he had warned Johnson that the refurbishment plans were “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended”.
Prime ministers receive a budget of up to £30,000 a year to renovate their Downing Street residency, however, the media has reported that Johnson may have spent up to £200,000 on his renovations.