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Inquiry into PM’s flat refurb must reopen amid claims he misled adviser – Labour

Angela Rayner has asked Lord Geidt to inspect the ‘inconsistencies’ between his report on the refit and a damning ruling by the Electoral Commission.

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The flat at Number 11 Downing Street was refurbished for the PM and wife Carrie to live in (PA)

The flat at Number 11 Downing Street was refurbished for the PM and wife Carrie to live in (PA)

The flat at Number 11 Downing Street was refurbished for the PM and wife Carrie to live in (PA)

Boris Johnson is facing fresh pressure over allegations he lied to his standards adviser over refurbishments to his Downing Street flat as Labour calls for an investigation to be reopened.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has written to Lord Geidt calling for him to inspect the “inconsistencies” between his report and a damning ruling from the Electoral Commission.

She has accused the Prime Minister of having lied to the ministerial standards adviser over whether he knew a Tory peer was behind donations for the lavish renovations.

Lord Geidt is reportedly considering resigning over allegations he was misled by Mr Johnson during his investigation into the refurbishments costing more than £112,500.

The pressure comes as the Prime Minister faces an investigation into allegations of Covid rule-breaching parties in Downing Street last Christmas and anger from Tory MPs over fresh coronavirus restrictions.

In a statement, Ms Rayner said: “We now know that in the days before he imposed the 2021 winter lockdown, the Prime Minister went from allegedly hosting an illegal party in Downing Street to asking super-rich Tory donors to secretly fund the luxury refurb of his flat.

“Not only has the Conservative Party broken the law, but its Prime Minister has made a mockery of the standards we expect.

“If Boris Johnson refuses a fresh investigation, that standard will be lowered significantly – setting the bar woefully low for our country’s public life.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his wife Carrie (PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his wife Carrie (PA)

PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his wife Carrie (PA)

Lord Geidt, however, does not have the power to independently open investigations, with the Prime Minister rejecting calls to hand the adviser that ability.

On Thursday, the Electoral Commission fined the Conservatives £17,800 after finding the party had not followed the law over donations from Lord Brownlow to help cover the works at the flat above Number 11.

But the watchdog’s report raised further questions by discussing evidence that Mr Johnson had sent the Tory peer a WhatsApp message in November 2020 “asking him to authorise further, at that stage unspecified, refurbishment works on the residence”, to which he agreed.

This was despite Mr Johnson having told Lord Geidt he had no knowledge of the payments until immediately prior to media reports in February 2021.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman denied Mr Johnson had lied, insisting he has “acted in accordance with the rules at all times”.

In its defence, Downing Street said the Prime Minister did not know Lord Brownlow was providing the money to the “blind trust” he was organising.

The Daily Telegraph reported Lord Geidt was on the verge of quitting after the Electoral Commission report was published, in what would be a significant blow to Mr Johnson’s premiership.

It would be the second ministerial standards adviser to Mr Johnson to resign amid scandal, after Sir Alex Allan quit in November last year after the Prime Minister sided with Home Secretary Priti Patel when the adviser found she broke the ministerial code with behaviour that amounted to bullying staff.

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