UK PM Johnson cleared of breaking ministerial code over Downing Street flat refurbishment

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London, May 28 (PTI) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not break the ministerial code over the funding of his Downing Street flat refurbishment, according to a report on Friday.

The ministerial code is the set of rules government ministers, including the prime minister, have to follow.

Lord Geid, the prime minister's adviser on standards, in his report found that Johnson 'unwisely' allowed work to go ahead without 'more rigorous regard' for how it could be paid for.

He found that a Tory donor had settled an invoice for some of the costs but accepted that Johnson was unaware of this.

'It meant no conflict of interest had arisen,' Lord Geidt said.

'I have also spoken...to the prime minister who confirms that he knew nothing about such payments until immediately prior to media reports in February 2021. At that point, the prime minister immediately sought the necessary advice about his interests and, as a consequence, settled the full amount himself on March 8, 2021,” he said.

Lord Geidt said it is clear from the record that while a serious and genuine endeavour, the (Downing Street) Trust was not subjected to a scheme of rigorous project management by officials.

“Given the level of the prime minister’s expectations for the trust to deliver on the objects he had set, this was a significant failing. Instead, the prime minister – unwisely, in my view – allowed the refurbishment of the apartment at No 11 Downing Street to proceed without more rigorous regard for how this would be funded,” he said.

According to the report, it was Conservative donor Lord Brownlow who settled an invoice for work on the flat, a bill reported to be GBP 200,000.

Johnson did have access to GBP 30,000 worth of public funds for renovation work, understood to have been carried out by designer Lulu Lytle. But the bill is understood to have far exceeded that amount.

There had been discussions about a Downing Street Trust being set up to pay for the work, before legal advice received in June 2020 “raised doubts” about whether such a body “would be capable of dealing with costs associated with the private residences”, said the adviser. PTI HSR SCY SCY