No10 is tight-lipped over Boris Johnson’s £535 county court debt

Downing Street was tight-lipped today after it emerged Boris Johnson has an outstanding £535 county court debt.

The register of county court judgements shows the PM was subject to a ruling over the sum on October 26 – and it is still ‘unsatisfied’.

The details of the case – registered to his address at 10 Downing Street – and the nature of the debt are unknown. 

No10 has yet to comment on the situation, which was first highlighted by Private Eye magazine. 

However, Mr Johnson’s finances have been the subject of swirling speculation for months, with claims Tory donors were approach to help meet costs of a lavish refurb at his official residence and even childcare for his young son.  

Downing Street was tight-lipped today after it emerged Boris Johnson has an outstanding £535 county court debt

The register of county court judgements shows the PM was subject to a ruling over the sum October 26 - and it is still 'unsatisfied'

The register of county court judgements shows the PM was subject to a ruling over the sum October 26 – and it is still ‘unsatisfied’

County court judgments are issued when action is taking by someone who claims there is a debt. 

The court can rule against individuals who simply do not respond. Those subject to rulings can ask for them to be set aside later. The issues relate to civil rather than criminal law.

Mr Johnson has been the subject of persistent gossip about his finances, with a huge row over claims Tory donors initially helped finance a refurbishment of his grace-and-favour flat.

There have also been suggestions donors were asked to contribute to the costs of his personal trainer and childcare for his and Carrie Symonds’ son Wilf.

Mr Johnson separated from ex-wife Marina, with whom he has four children, in 2018. They formally divorced in February last year after agreeing a financial settlement.

He became engaged to Ms Symonds in December 2019.

The couple live in Downing Street with Wilf, who was born in April last year.  

Despite the PM’s £150,000 salary, he is believed to have taken a significant pay cut on entering Downing Street as he was previously earning large sums for writing columns and giving speeches. 

There have been claims that the PM is preparing to rent out a property in London, which could bring significant income.  

Mr Johnson live in a grace-and-favour flat in Downing Street with fiancee Carrie and their son Wilf, who was born in April last year

Mr Johnson live in a grace-and-favour flat in Downing Street with fiancee Carrie and their son Wilf, who was born in April last year

The Electoral Commission has opened a formal investigation into the funding of the lavish refurbishment of the couple's official flat. Pictured: A design by Lulu Lytle, who is believed to have carried out the refurbishment

The Electoral Commission has opened a formal investigation into the funding of the lavish refurbishment of the couple’s official flat. Pictured: A design by Lulu Lytle, who is believed to have carried out the refurbishment

The Electoral Commission has launched an investigation into the Conservative Party over whether donations were properly reported. Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds could be interviewed, although they are not personally subject to action.

The premier has insisted he paid for the renovations himself, beyond the £30,000 annual taxpayer contribution for upkeep. 

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said there were ‘deeply concerning irregularities’ about the financing of the No11 flat refurbishment.

‘This is not about Boris Johnson’s personal finances, the record speaks for itself that he has already broken the rules on declaring his financial interests,’ she said.

‘The issue of debt when it comes to the Prime Minister is whatever debt of gratitude Boris Johnson owes to the Tory donor who paid to renovate his flat, and what this donor or donors were promised or expected in return for their generosity.’

Mr Johnson has dismissed the row over his flat funding as ‘trivia’, and it did not stop him romping to victory in Super Thursday elections last week.  

But ex-chief aide Dominic Cummings, who is now in a state of war with Mr Johnson, claimed in a blog last month that he had warned the PM that ‘plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations’.

PMs have an annual allowance for improvements to their residence, and sources have told MailOnline that the £30,000 available for 2020-21 was the only public funding used for the refurb. 

Mr Johnson has repeatedly dodged when asked whether the extra cost of the work – believed to be £58,000 – was initially paid from Tory funds, merely insisting he had now footed the bill.

Labour has asked the parliamentary commissioner for standards to look into the issues raised and whether any rules been broken, but it a formal probe is not thought to have been launched yet.

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. 

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds rent out their £1.2million south London townhouse

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds rent out their £1.2million south London townhouse to raise cash after Downing Street refurbishment row

  • Prime Minister reportedly took out buy-to-let mortgage on Camberwell home 
  • He had purchased the three-storey, redbrick house for £1.2million in July 2019
  • It is estimated renting the house could earn Mr Johnson up to £4,000 a month

Boris Johnson is preparing to rent out his £1.2million south London townhouse to raise cash amid a feud over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, reports say.

It is understood the Prime Minister has taken out a buy-to-let mortgage on the home he purchased with his fiancée Carrie Symonds in Camberwell, south London, in July 2019.

He could let the three-storey, redbrick house for between £3,300 and £4,000 a month, according to The Times

The couple face growing scrutiny following the estimated £200,000 refurbishment of their Downing Street flat – and the decision to fund it via contributions from Tory donors.  

Boris Johnson is preparing to rent out his £1.2million south London townhouse to raise cash amid a feud over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, reports say

A preview of Lulu Lytle (pictured with her dog Panther) of Soane Britain's collaboration with Christie's Spring edition of The Collector sales

A preview of Lulu Lytle (pictured with her dog Panther) of Soane Britain’s collaboration with Christie’s Spring edition of The Collector sales

It emerged on Wednesday that Britain’s top civil servant Simon Case only discovered Mr Johnson wanted a charity to pay for the makeover earlier this year. 

Former royal aide Mr Case decided to look into the matter further and reportedly discovered that Tory donor Lord Brownlow of Shurlock Row had been lined up to chair a planned Downing Street charity and two other peers were said to have been asked to join the board.         

It is understood the Prime Minister has taken out a buy-to-let mortgage on the home he purchased with his fiancée Carrie Symonds in Camberwell, south London, in July 2019

It is understood the Prime Minister has taken out a buy-to-let mortgage on the home he purchased with his fiancée Carrie Symonds in Camberwell, south London, in July 2019

Mr Case had a meeting with the potential trustees, former Thatcher adviser Lord Powell and senior Labour peer Baroness Jay, to find out what was happening. 

He is now conducting one of several investigations into how the costly redecoration of the Number 11 residence was funded.

A Cabinet Office spokesman confirmed: ‘The Cabinet Secretary only became aware of the Trust in late February.’  

The Prime Minister purchased his home in Camberwell in July 2019 with a mortgage from Santander. 

Land Registry documents show it was remortgaged with Clydesdale Bank last August.

Mr Johnson also recently began renting out his £1.2million home near Thame, Oxfordshire. A buy-to-let mortgage was taken out last year with Barclays. 

The four-bedroom, detached house was listed for £4,250 a month in April.

It comes after the Prime Minister was asked to pay for the lavish renovation of his Downing Street flat last spring. 

Mr Johnson had reportedly complained to aides that Carrie was buying wallpaper costing £840 a roll from interior designer Lulu Lytle.  

Mr Johnson had reportedly complained to aides that Carrie was buying wallpaper costing £840 a roll from interior designer Lulu Lytle. Pictured: The designer

Mr Johnson had reportedly complained to aides that Carrie was buying wallpaper costing £840 a roll from interior designer Lulu Lytle. Pictured: The designer

He told Ministers that he had settled the bill with his own money, but has ducked questions about who originally paid out when the work at 11, Downing Street was completed in 2020. 

An inquiry has now been launched following a string of revelations in the Mail suggesting a £58,000 cost overrun may have been paid originally by the Conservative Party before being covered by Tory donor Lord Brownlow. 

Failure to declare donations is an offence under electoral law, punishable by fines of up to £20,000.   

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Boris Johnson should RESIGN if he broke ministerial code over flat revamp, Scottish Tory leader says

Boris Johnson should RESIGN if it is ruled he broke ministerial code over Downing Street flat revamp, Scottish Tory leader says

  • Scottish Tory leader says ‘of course’ PM should quit if he broke ministerial code
  • Several probes are under way into the tangled financing of flat refurbishment 
  • The remarks made by Douglas Ross are likely to infuriate Downing Street
  • The PM, as head of the Government, will be final adjudicator on code breaches 

Boris Johnson must resign if he has broken the ministerial code in the lavish makeover of his Downing Street flat, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said.

Douglas Ross, the most senior Tory north of the border, said the Prime Minister should ‘of course’ quit if he did not abide by the standards of conduct expected of ministers.

Several probes are under way into the tangled financing of the costly refurbishment – including an investigation by Mr Johnson’s new adviser on ministerial interests, Lord Geidt.

The PM is pictured together with Douglas Ross on a visit to Elgin, Scotland in the 2019 election campaign

But the PM, as head of the Government, will be the final adjudicator on any breaches of the ministerial code.

Mr Ross was asked on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show if Mr Johnson should quit if found to be in breach of the code.

He replied: ‘Of course, I think people expect the highest standards of those in the highest office of the land, that’s why I think people are looking at the investigations that are currently ongoing and waiting for the answers.’

Mr Ross is the most senior Tory to question the funding arrangements, putting him at odds with No 10.

His comments are likely to infuriate Downing Street, which has sought to play down the row. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday dismissed claims that a Tory donor was asked to pay for a nanny for Mr Johnson’s one-year-old son Wilfred as ‘tittle-tattle’.

Douglas Ross, the most senior Tory north of the border, said the Prime Minister should ‘of course’ quit if he did not abide by the standards of conduct expected of ministers

Douglas Ross, the most senior Tory north of the border, said the Prime Minister should ‘of course’ quit if he did not abide by the standards of conduct expected of ministers

The Sunday Times reported that senior Conservatives said donors have been approached about funding other aspects of the PM and Carrie Symonds’ lifestyle. 

One donor is alleged to have said: ‘I don’t mind paying for leaflets but I resent being asked to pay to literally wipe the Prime Minister’s baby’s bottom.’

Mr Raab said he had ‘no idea’ if the claim was correct, adding: ‘You don’t have conversations like that with the PM.’

A No 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister ‘has covered the cost of all childcare’, but did not say whether he paid for the original bill himself.

The Foreign Secretary declined to deny a claim that a second invoice for the renovations may have been settled with the supplier by a Tory donor. 

Mr Raab also sidestepped questions over whether Mr Johnson should resign if he is found to have broken the law by the Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Commission last week launched an investigation into whether any donations or loans were properly declared. It is also the subject of an internal review by the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, and there have been calls for the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone to investigate.

Mr Johnson last week said he has now paid the £58,000 cost overrun and described the row as a ‘farrago of nonsense’.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said yesterday: ‘We need to know who the Prime Minister is beholden to, we need to know what he has promised in return.’

Mr Johnson’s chaotic decision-making has led No 10 insiders to nickname him ‘Trolley’, according to the BBC.

One source said: ‘You think you are pushing it along a path towards your goal then suddenly it veers off disastrously.’

Downing Street has declined to comment on the name.

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Rishi Sunak redecorated his Downing Street flat ‘entirely at his own expense’, Treasury reveals

Chancellor Rishi Sunak redecorated his Downing Street flat ‘entirely at his own expense’, Treasury reveals

  • Rishi Sunak redecorated his Downing St flat last year ‘entirely’ at own expense
  • The Chancellor, his wife Akshata and two daughters live in the flat above No.10
  • Comes as storm continues to rage over Boris Johnson’s costly refurbishment 

Rishi Sunak redecorated his Downing Street flat last year ‘entirely at his own expense’, the Treasury revealed yesterday.

As the storm raged over Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds’ costly refurbishment, the Chancellor – whose personal fortune vastly exceeds the PM’s – disclosed that he too had redecorated his grace-and-favour residence.

The impeccably-timed revelation came in response to a parliamentary question from Labour. 

Rishi Sunak lives in the flat above No.10 with his wife Akshata and their two daughters 

The answer is believed to have been overdue, and had to be provided yesterday before the annual prorogation of Parliament that precedes the Queen’s Speech.

Mr Sunak, a former hedge fund partner, and his wife Akshata Murthy, the daughter of a billionaire businessman, live in the flat above 10 Downing Street with their two daughters. 

A John Lewis van passes Downing Street

A John Lewis van passes Downing Street

Mr Johnson, his fiancee and their son Wilfred live in the larger flat above No 11.

Treasury minister Kemi Badenoch told MPs yesterday: ‘The Chancellor redecorated the No 10 flat last year. It was paid for up-front and entirely at his own expense.’

The Chancellor redecorated his Downing Street flat 'upfront; and entirely at his own expense'

The Chancellor redecorated his Downing Street flat ‘upfront; and entirely at his own expense’

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Sleaze inquiry into Boris Johnson’s £15,000 Mustique holiday is still ongoing

A sleaze inquiry into Boris Johnson’s trip to Mustique is still ongoing some 16 months after the Prime Minister’s lavish Caribbean holiday.

Downing Street yesterday said Mr Johnson had made all relevant declarations after the ten-day luxury villa break, which was worth £15,000.

But senior Tories are braced for fresh criticism of Mr Johnson over how his and Carrie Symonds’ trip was funded.

The PM recorded the holiday in the register of MPs’ interests last year, stating the break came courtesy of Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross, who owns a holiday villa on the island.

A sleaze inquiry into Boris Johnson’s trip to Mustique is still ongoing some 16 months after the Prime Minister’s lavish Caribbean holiday

Senior Tories are braced for fresh criticism of Mr Johnson over how his and Carrie Symonds’ trip was funded

Senior Tories are braced for fresh criticism of Mr Johnson over how his and Carrie Symonds’ trip was funded

A spokesman for Mr Ross, a long-time Tory donor, initially told the Mail that the tycoon had not paid for the trip, describing the claim as a ‘mistake’. They later backtracked, saying Mr Ross had ‘facilitated’ the holiday in December 2019.

Kathryn Stone, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, agreed to a Labour request to launch an inquiry. 

More than a year later, a Tory source has told the Mail that concern is mounting that Mr Johnson could be reprimanded over his failure to register the involvement of The Mustique Company, which owns the tiny paradise island. 

Another insider said the arrangements for the financing of the holiday had led to a dispute between Miss Symonds and Helen MacNamara, then director general of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office.

Sarah Richardson, the owner of the villa where the couple stayed, told the Mail at the time: ‘The rentals are handled by The Mustique Company. Unless we are staying there ourselves, the company rents it. The company is in charge.

‘We have a contract with the company to manage all the rentals. All we do is get the statement. We get paid for the stay, we get paid for anybody who rents our house, but I have no idea who paid for the house, whether [Mr Johnson] did or whoever this Mr Ross is. All I have is a statement saying how much.’

The Mustique Company levies a 10 per cent ‘island fee’ on all rentals to cover the cost of services and facilities, such as utilities, medical care and security. The PM’s declaration made no mention of this fee, leaving it unclear who paid it – if anyone.

A source told the Mail: ‘The issue that is causing concern is not so much over Ross, it is whether The Mustique Company should have been declared as well.’

Pippa Ona, director of sales and marketing at The Mustique Company, said it was ‘absolutely not’ the case the business had paid for Mr Johnson’s stay – and had ‘no idea’ who did. She refused to reveal whether the ‘island fee’, which would have amounted to £1,500 for the PM’s stay, had been waived – but did say that Mustique ‘prides itself on the privacy’ of its clients.

Downing Street yesterday said Mr Johnson had made all relevant declarations after the ten-day luxury villa break, which was worth £15,000

Downing Street yesterday said Mr Johnson had made all relevant declarations after the ten-day luxury villa break, which was worth £15,000

The PM recorded the holiday in the register of MPs’ interests last year, stating the break came courtesy of Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross, who owns a holiday villa on the island

The PM recorded the holiday in the register of MPs’ interests last year, stating the break came courtesy of Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross, who owns a holiday villa on the island

Downing Street said the Prime Minister had made all the appropriate declarations.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves last night called for the investigation into the financing of the holiday to be published. ‘As sleaze scandal upon scandal unfolds, we need to know where the probe into who paid for the Prime Minister’s luxury Caribbean getaway is,’ she said.

‘This is even more critical given the Prime Minister’s scandalous cover-up of who paid for the Downing Street flat refurbishment. The truth must come out.’

The Mail reported earlier this year that Miss Symonds had urged her fiance to sack Miss MacNamara, a Whitehall sleazebuster, after she ruled that only a small part of the cost of refurbishing the couple’s Downing Street flat could be met from the public purse.

In the end, Miss MacNamara left the civil service of her own volition, after accepting the role of director of policy and corporate affairs at the Premier League.

The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards declined to comment on why its investigation was taking so long, or when the findings would be published.

Ex-civil service chief lashes Boris Johnson over £58,000 Downing St flat renovation

A former civil service head today lashed Boris Johnson over a lavish £60,000 refurbishment of his Downing Street flat – amid warnings he could face a ‘serious sanction’ for failing to register a loan.

Lord O’Donnell said transparency over the murky arrangements was ‘very late’, warning that PMs need to ‘set an example’ and ‘obey the rules’.

Conservative chiefs are believed to have secretly approved a £58,000 payment to the Cabinet Office in July last year to cover the works – which was on top of the £30,000 annual sum for upkeep that the taxpayer foots.

However, the government has insisted that the premier has now funded the overhaul himself. Downing Street has refused to deny reports that Mr Johnson secured a loan from a Tory donor – believed to be financier Lord Brownlow – to pay for the decor.

But experts say that should have been declared in the MPs’ register of interests within a month. 

Mr Johnson has previously been berated by the Commons standards watchdog for repeatedly failing to declare financial interests. In a report in Spring 2019 – shortly before he became PM – the cross-party committee said: ‘Should we conclude in future that Mr Johnson has committed any further breaches of the rules on registration, we will regard this as a matter which may call for more serious sanction.’

Beyond an apology, tougher sanctions could potentially include suspension. 

There is also speculation that if a donor footed the cost, Mr Johnson could face a significant tax bill because HMRC would consider it a benefit in kind.   

Boris Johnson, pictured with fiancee Carrie Symonds, faces having to declare how the costly Downing Street flat refurb was funded

Mr Johnson has previously been berated by the Commons standards watchdog for repeatedly failing to declare financial interests. Pictured, a committee report from Spring 2019

Mr Johnson has previously been berated by the Commons standards watchdog for repeatedly failing to declare financial interests. Pictured, a committee report from Spring 2019

Lord O'Donnell said transparency over the murky arrangements was 'very late', warning that PMs need to 'set an example' and 'obey the rules'

Lord O’Donnell said transparency over the murky arrangements was ‘very late’, warning that PMs need to ‘set an example’ and ‘obey the rules’

How the scandal unfolded 

July 2019: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds, pictured, move into the four-bedroom flat. Miss Symonds is reportedly keen to get rid of the ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’.

July 2020: The Conservative Party pays £58,000 to the Cabinet Office for the cost of refurbishing the flat.

October 2020: Tory donor Lord Brownlow emails party chairman Ben Elliot and head of fundraising Mike Chattey, saying he has given £58,000 to cover payments ‘the party has already made on behalf of the soon to be formed ‘Downing Street Trust’. Lord Brownlow says he chairs the trust, which reportedly planned to preserve the famous street’s heritage and decor.

March 6, 2021: The Daily Mail reveals that Mr Johnson wanted Tory donors to contribute to the cost of redecorating the flat, and that the party tried to launch a cover-up. No 10 insists there has been no wrongdoing.

March 20, 2021: The Electoral Commission quizzes Tory chiefs over the funding of the makeover and has asked Mr Elliot to explain whether the Conservative Party complied with laws on political donations.

April 21, 2021: The Mail publishes emails sent by Lord Brownlow to Mr Elliot.

April 22, 2021: It emerges that Whitehall’s most senior mandarin, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, is investigating how the refurbishment of Mr Johnson’s flat was paid for.

April 23, 2021: The Cabinet Office announces that beyond basic taxpayer-funded work on the flat any wider refurbishment costs ‘have been met by the PM personally’. No 10 does not give details of how Mr Johnson paid the £58,000.

Mr Johnson’s former chief of staff Dominic Cummings says he warned the PM in 2020 he could be breaking the law if he asked Tory donors to pay for the refurbishment, calling proposal ‘unethical, foolish and possible illegal’.

April 26, 2021: Mr Case tells MPs the idea of setting up a trust to fund the upkeep of Downing Street has been looked into but it could not pay for refurbishments to the Prime Minister’s flat.

Whitehall sources have told the Mail Mr Johnson may be forced publicly to declare exactly how the costly refurbishment was funded.

One source said further details were likely to be revealed in an updated register of ministerial interests, which could be released as early as this week. 

But Mr Johnson first has to appoint a new adviser on ministerial standards – a post that has been vacant since Sir Alex Allen resigned in November in protest at the PM’s refusal to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel over bullying allegations.

The appointment was due to be announced last week but the preferred candidate is said to be ‘wobbling’ about whether to accept the post.

The ministerial register is  

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case yesterday confirmed Mr Johnson had wanted to set up a charitable trust more than 12 months ago to pay for the flat’s refit. But he said it was now clear that it would be illegal for a charitable trust to pay for the upkeep of private quarters.

He refused to say whether political donations had been accepted to help fund the project.

Mr Johnson also ducked the question yesterday, telling reporters: ‘If there’s anything to be said about that, any declaration to be made, that will of course be made in due course.’  

The Cabinet Office informed parliament on Friday that the PM has now paid the bill for his renovations. 

A senior Tory told the Mail he had been forced to take out a loan to settle the bill. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord O’Donnell said if Mr Johnson wanted to focus on policy rather than a sleaze row the best thing was to ‘obey the rules’. 

‘The issue is really whether we expect our MPs, ministers and PMs to obey the rules. If there are a set of rules presumably they are there for a good reason,’ the former Cabinet Secretary said.

‘They can be changed if people think they are wrong. But if they are there we would expect people, and ministers in particular, to obey those rules. They are required to under the ministerial code.

‘Transparency is always a good thing.’

Asked whether it mattered given there does not appear to be any taxpayer money involved, the peer said: ‘We are very late, aren’t we. Let’s be honest in this case… there should be a set-up to ensure that these things happen.

‘PMs have to set an example and therefore they should abide by the rules. I think that is really important.’

He added: ‘The simple way of not being worried about all this is just obey all the rules.’

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said all declarations will be made in the ‘usual way’. 

In a round of interviews, she said it was ‘no surprise’ that Mr Johnson wanted to make changes to the flat as he has a young family.

‘The Prime Minister has probably spent more time in the Number 10 flat than prime ministers normally would,’ she told LBC.

‘Also, the birth of his young son, having his family there, so I think it’s no surprise if people with a different sort of family atmosphere moving into a private residence in Number 10 want to make changes.’

Asked if she would spend £5,900 on an armchair, Ms Coffey said: ‘The point is that the Prime Minister has paid for those.

‘I think it’s perfectly acceptable for people to spend their money how they wish, when they are considering their family in the residence where they spend a lot of time.’ 

PM was put on warning by Commons standards committee in 2019 

Boris Johnson has previously been put on warning by the Commons standards watchdog over ‘repeated’ failures to declare financial interests.

A report in April 2019 on his late declaration of an interest in a property in Somerset noted that there was a ‘pattern of behaviour’.

Standards commissioner Kathryn Stone pointed to a series of breaches by Mr Johnson.  

He was three months late registering his joint ownership of London property in March 2017. 

He was then eleven months late registering his interest the Somerset property.

She said in October 2018 Mr Johnson gave an assurance that his entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests was complete – but that turned out to be ‘inaccurate’.

The cross-party committee said: ‘Should we conclude in future that Mr Johnson has committed any further breaches of the rules on registration, we will regard this as a matter which may call for more serious sanction.’

Mr Johnson’s sister Rachel yesterday defended the overhaul of the ‘light and airy’ flat shared by the PM and his fiancee Carrie Symonds. 

‘They have a baby about to turn one and maybe it needed some spiffing up,’ she said.

A Conservative Party spokesman 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.’

Lord Brownlow did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Johnson has previously been put on notice by the Commons standards watchdog over ‘repeated’ failures to declare financial interests.

A report in April 2019 on his late declaration of an interest in a property in Somerset noted that there was a ‘pattern of behaviour’.

Standards commissioner Kathryn Stone pointed to a series of breaches by Mr Johnson.  

He was three months late registering his joint ownership of London property in March 2017. 

He was then eleven months late registering his interest the Somerset property.

She said in October 2018 Mr Johnson gave an assurance that his entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests was complete – but that turned out to be ‘inaccurate’.

The cross-party committee said: ‘Should we conclude in future that Mr Johnson has committed any further breaches of the rules on registration, we will regard this as a matter which may call for more serious sanction.’

There is a labyrinthine money trail used for the cost of the £58,000 renovations. Pictured, Lulu Lytle furnishings

There is a labyrinthine money trail used for the cost of the £58,000 renovations. Pictured, Lulu Lytle furnishings

It is thought the Cabinet Office forwarded the money from Tory HQ to the contractors, including upmarket designer Lulu Lytle

It is thought the Cabinet Office forwarded the money from Tory HQ to the contractors, including upmarket designer Lulu Lytle

Tory HQ paid flat bill: Money trail gets murkier as party says it stumped up £58,000 in July 

Boris Johnson’s claim to have paid for the lavish makeover of his Downing Street flat faced fresh scrutiny last night after it was confirmed Tory HQ paid the £58,000 bill nine months ago.

Conservative chiefs are understood to have secretly approved the payment to the Cabinet Office in July.

The payment, confirmed to the Mail yesterday by Cabinet Office sources, undermines the PM’s insistence that he paid the bill himself.

Downing Street has refused to deny reports that Mr Johnson secured a loan from a Tory donor – believed to be financier Lord Brownlow – to pay for the decor.

Whitehall sources last night told the Mail that Mr Johnson may now be forced to publicly declare exactly how the costly refurbishment was funded.

Boris Johnson, pictured with fiancee Carrie Symonds, may have to declare how the costly refurb was paid for

One source said further details were likely to be revealed in an updated register of ministerial interests, which could be released as early as this week. 

But Mr Johnson first has to appoint a new adviser on ministerial standards – a post that has been vacant since Sir Alex Allen resigned in November in protest at the PM’s refusal to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel over bullying allegations.

The appointment was due to be announced last week but the preferred candidate is said to be ‘wobbling’ about whether to accept the post.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case yesterday confirmed Mr Johnson had wanted to set up a charitable trust more than 12 months ago to pay for the flat’s refit. But he said it was now clear that it would be illegal for a charitable trust to pay for the upkeep of private quarters.

He refused to say whether political donations had been accepted to help fund the project.

Mr Johnson also ducked the question yesterday, telling reporters: ‘If there’s anything to be said about that, any declaration to be made, that will of course be made in due course.’ 

There is a labyrinthine money trail used for the cost of the £58,000 renovations (pictured)

There is a labyrinthine money trail used for the cost of the £58,000 renovations (pictured)

The Cabinet Office informed parliament on Friday that the PM has now paid the bill for his renovations. A senior Tory told the Mail he had been forced to take out a loan to settle the bill.

Mr Johnson’s sister Rachel yesterday defended the overhaul of the ‘light and airy’ flat shared by the PM and his fiancee Carrie Symonds. ‘They have a baby about to turn one and maybe it needed some spiffing up,’ she said.

The latest disclosures add another layer to the labyrinthine money trail used to meet the cost of the refurbishment. 

It is thought that the Cabinet Office, which oversees building work in Downing Street, forwarded the money from Tory HQ to the contractors, including upmarket designer Lulu Lytle.

This newspaper revealed this month that Lord Brownlow paid the Tory Party £58,000 as a ‘donation’ to cover the sum it had paid for the refit. If, as Downing Street now says, Mr Johnson has paid the bill, there would appear to be two possible ways of doing so. 

Either Lord Brownlow’s ‘donation’ to Tory HQ in October has been turned into a ‘loan’ to the PM.

Or Mr Johnson has reimbursed £58,000 to Party funds to cover the payment Lord Brownlow made to it in October, which in turn was to cover the payment made last July to the Cabinet Office by Tory HQ.

If, as some insiders are speculating, Lord Brownlow’s ‘donation’ has become a ‘loan’ to Mr Johnson, the Party will face calls to reveal who authorised this. 

It is thought the Cabinet Office forwarded the money from Tory HQ to the contractors, including upmarket designer Lulu Lytle

It is thought the Cabinet Office forwarded the money from Tory HQ to the contractors, including upmarket designer Lulu Lytle

Critics may argue that in such hypothetical circumstances, the ‘loan’ is tantamount to being a Tory ‘donation’ in a different guise. The Electoral Commission watchdog is still in talks with the Tory Party to establish if it complied with strict rules on the use of party funds and donations.

When the Mail first revealed the scandal, Mr Johnson’s then press secretary Allegra Stratton said: ‘Conservative Party funds are not being used to pay for any refurbishment of the Downing Street estate.’ 

Asked whether donors had been encouraged to pay for the refurbishment, Miss Stratton said any donations would be declared through the Electoral Commission, the House of Commons’ register of members’ interests, or in ministerial transparency declarations. No such declarations have yet been made. 

A Conservative Party spokesman 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.’

Lord Brownlow did not respond to a request for comment.

Lex Greensill’s appointment was a ‘glaring conflict of interest’, Whitehall official admits

Lex Greensill’s appointment to Downing Street role was a ‘screaming, glaring conflict of interest’, Whitehall official admits

  • Mr Greensill was given a pass a= to enter No 10 when he was advising Cameron 
  • He had Downing Street business cards calling himself a ‘senior adviser’ 
  • His appointment was a ‘glaring conflict of interest’, a top Whitehall official said

Financier Lex Greensill’s appointment to a role in Downing Street was a ‘screaming, glaring conflict of interest’, a top Whitehall official admitted yesterday.

Mr Greensill was given a pass and security clearance to enter No 10 when he was advising David Cameron’s government.

He had Downing Street business cards calling himself a ‘senior adviser’, but officials have been unable to find a job contract for him. 

Financier Lex Greensill’s appointment to a role in Downing Street was a ‘screaming, glaring conflict of interest’, a top Whitehall official admitted yesterday. Greensill is pictured above 

Darren Tierney, director general of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office, was giving evidence to MPs. He told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: ‘He wasn’t a special adviser – his exact status is unclear.’

He added: ‘We’ve been unable to find a contract.’ Tory MP David Jones said Mr Greensill was in the business of selling services to the Government – yet was in a position to acquire important commercial information from inside the administration.

He asked Mr Tierney: ‘Doesn’t it look a screaming, glaring conflict of interest?’ Mr Tierney replied: ‘Yes, it does.’ Britain’s top civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case agreed that he was ‘alarmed’ by the arrangement. An appointment letter for Mr Greensill setting out confidentiality conditions has been found and it was said that his role was signed off by then minister Francis Maude.

Mr Greensill was given a pass and security clearance to enter No 10 when he was advising David Cameron's government

Mr Greensill was given a pass and security clearance to enter No 10 when he was advising David Cameron’s government

Links between the financier’s firm Greensill Capital, the Government and Mr Cameron have come under scrutiny after the former prime minister worked for the firm following his departure from No 10. Greensill Capital went bust last month despite Mr Cameron lobbying ministers and senior figures at the Bank of England over access to Government-backed loans on its behalf.

Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that nearly 100 top mandarins have paid second jobs, with some working as yoga instructors and tutors in their spare time.

Mr Case insisted none of the roles raised concerns about conflicts of interest. A probe was ordered after a former Government procurement chief advised the Greensill Capital board while working in Whitehall.

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Cabinet Secretary dodges questions over PM’s flat overhaul

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case refuses to say if Tory donations were used for Downing Street flat overhaul as he launches review as MPs mock his failure to answer questions as ‘a badly scripted version of Yes Minister’

  • Cabinet Secretary Simon Case dodged questions over PM’s Number 11 flat
  • Mr Case was grilled by MPs on process for the lavish overhaul of the residence
  • He said the PM had asked him to carry out a review of what had happened
  • MPs said his answers sounded like a ‘badly scripted version of Yes Minister’ 

Simon Case today dodged saying whether Tory donations were used to fund an overhaul of Boris Johnson’s grace-and-favour flat.

The Cabinet Secretary ducked as he was grilled on the process for the lavish overhaul of the Downing Street residence – believed to have cost around £90,000 in total. 

Instead he stressed that the Prime Minister had asked him to carry out a review of what had happened.

Mr Johnson has insisted he has now paid for the works to his Number 11 living quarters out of his own pocket.  

Mr Case’s failure to answer questions prompted fury from MPs who said he sounded like a ‘badly scripted version of Yes Minister’. 

Simon Case today dodged saying whether Tory donations were used to fund an overhaul of Boris Johnson’s grace-and-favour flat

Mr Case was grilled on the issue this afternoon as he gave evidence to Parliament’s powerful Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. 

Asked whether he was aware of private donations being used to cover the costs at first, Mr Case told MPs: ‘What I’m happy to tell you is that the Prime Minister has asked me to conduct a review because I’ve not been involved directly with this.’

He added: ‘The Prime Minister has asked me to conduct a review into how this has been done and asked that I share the details of those conclusions with the committee.’

The Cabinet Secretary said he expects the review to take ‘only a matter of weeks’.

Pressed on whether he was personally aware of any donations contributed towards the renovations, Mr Case added: ‘I do not have all the facts and details at my disposal on this, which is why the Prime Minister has asked me to conduct this review.’

He said Mr Johnson would be making the ‘relevant declarations’ in regard to spending on his Downing Street flat.

Mr Case’s failure to give detailed answers to questions about the refurbishment of the flat sparked anger among the committee’s members. 

William Wragg, the chairman of the committee, told the Cabinet Secretary: ‘Mr Case, you have known you have been coming to this committee… for some weeks now. 

‘There are a number of topical issues about the place at the moment, one of which is the vexed question of the flat’s refurbishment.

‘I am surprised that you haven’t been better furnished with the answers to give to the committee.’

Mr Case replied: ‘What I really want to avoid doing is actually misleading the committee in anyway by giving you partial insights.

‘The Prime Minister has asked me to do this review which I will do and as I say he has asked me to share those conclusions with you.’

Labour’s former shadow chancellor John McDonnell then compared Mr Case’s answers to the British political satire TV programme ‘Yes Minister’. 

Mr McDonnell said: ‘I don’t wish to be rude Mr Case but this is coming across like a badly scripted version of Yes Minister.’ 

While visiting Wrexham today, Mr Johnson did not deny discussing using donors to fund the work, saying: ‘If there’s anything to be said about that, any declaration to be made, that will, of course, be made in due course.’ 

Boris Johnson, pictured during a visit to Wrexham today, has insisted he has now paid for the works out of his own pocket

Boris Johnson, pictured during a visit to Wrexham today, has insisted he has now paid for the works out of his own pocket

Labour has called for a full investigation by the Electoral Commission into the situation.

The commission, which first raised the issue with the Conservatives more than a month ago, confirmed at the weekend it was still looking into whether any of the sums relating to the work on the flat should have been declared. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘It’s very important we have answers.’

He added: ‘It’s all very well the Prime Minister saying, now, “well, I paid for it”.

‘The critical question was what was the original arrangement and why is it so complicated?

‘If there’s a straightforward answer, then give it. If there isn’t, then there are very serious questions to be asked.’ 

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Ministers and Cabinet Secretary face grilling over Downing Street flat row

Ministers and the Cabinet Secretary face a grilling today over claims Boris Johnson tried to get Tory donors to fund a £60,000 Downing Street flat renovation.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case will appear before MPs following a string of explosive allegations made by Dominic Cummings. 

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is also set to answer an urgent question in the Commons as Labour seeks to capitalise on the meltdown.  

Mr Cummings has accused the PM of wanting donors to ‘secretly pay for the renovation’ of his official residence, in a move the former No10 aide branded ‘unethical, foolish, possibly illegal’.

Downing Street insists the premier funded the work himself in the end, and all ministerial and electoral rules have been followed.

Speaking to reporters in Wrexham, Mr Johnson did not deny discussing using donations to fund the refurbishment.

He said: ‘If there’s anything to be said about that, any declaration to be made, that will, of course, be made in due course.’ 

Asked about the row during interviews this morning, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Mr Johnson had paid ‘out of his own pocket’ for the Downing Street upgrade.

Mr Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Do I think the Prime Minister is sleazy? No, I don’t.

Britain’s top civil servant will be quizzed over the lavish refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat today amid claims that the Prime Minister has had to take out a personal loan to pay for it

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is also set to answer an urgent question in the Commons as Labour seeks to capitalise on the meltdown

Simon Case

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove (left) is also set to answer an urgent question in the Commons as Labour seeks to capitalise on the meltdown. Simon Case (right) will be appearing before a powerful committee of MPs

‘Do I think the Prime Minister is an absolutely first-class leader who has led this country in a pandemic?

‘Let’s not forget, while we are getting into Oscar-type gossip columns – there is an awful lot of gossip going around.

‘He paid out of his own money to refurbish the flat. He paid for his flat.’

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has granted an urgent question laid by Labour, with Mr Gove understood to be planning to respond.

Appearing before the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Mr Case is expected to deny claims that he cleared Mr Cummings over involvement in the ‘chatty rat’ leak last autumn about the impending second lockdown.

A government source said last night the inquiry, conducted with the assistance of MI5, was ongoing, adding: ‘It has neither found anyone responsible, nor ruled anyone out.’ 

But Mr Case is also expected to face detailed questions about the refurbishment of the flat above Number 11 Downing Street used by Mr Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds.

Adding to the controversy, one senior Tory told the Mail last night: ‘Boris had to take out a personal loan to cover the cost. You have to be pretty wealthy to have £60,000 lying around. He has just emerged from an expensive divorce.’

One former minister told MailOnline of the latest claims: ‘This needs to stop because it is damaging both sides. 

‘Cummings may think that now that he is no longer in government he has less to lose, but he needs to remember that he spent a lot of time in senior positions, and without doubt there will be things that he will not want to leaked out.

‘He may feel that he has nothing to lose, but he is wrong.’

‘It is also time for Carrie Symonds to back off, because it is clear in all of this that her name comes up regularly in the issues that are causing the PM difficulty – whether it is appointments, personnel, or having the flat redecorated.’  

The Electoral Commission has said it is still seeking answers from Tory chiefs about whether party funds or donations were used.

Labour has written to the commission calling for a full investigation. 

On Friday, Mr Cummings said Mr Johnson wanted ‘donors to secretly pay for the renovation’ – which he said was ‘unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules’.

The Mail had revealed that Mr Johnson asked Tory donors to help with the cost of the makeover which is said to run to six figures. 

On Friday, the Cabinet Office said the cost of ‘painting, sanding and floorboards’ had been paid from a £30,000 maintenance allowance, but ‘any costs of wider refurbishment have been met by the Prime Minister personally’. 

Asked about the row during interviews this morning, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Mr Johnson had paid 'out of his own pocket' for the Downing Street upgrade

Asked about the row during interviews this morning, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Mr Johnson had paid ‘out of his own pocket’ for the Downing Street upgrade

Mr Cummings has accused the PM (pictured together in 2019) of wanting donors to 'secretly pay for the renovation' of his official residence

Mr Cummings has accused the PM (pictured together in 2019) of wanting donors to ‘secretly pay for the renovation’ of his official residence

Labour’s Kate Green said there were ‘very troubling allegations’ surrounding the work at the Number 11 flat.

The shadow education secretary told the Today programme: ‘I’m glad they (the Electoral Commission) are looking into it because clearly these are very troubling allegations and they go to the heart of ethics and integrity in our Government, and transparency.

‘It seems to me that as long as there is uncertainty, there is doubt and innuendo and rumour about who is getting contracts, who is paying for the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat, who is in and who is out.

‘This is distracting the Government. They are not getting on with the right priorities for the country because they are busy fighting among themselves and seeking to throw up a smokescreen.’