Boris Johnson faces THIRD probe over 'Wallpapergate'

Boris Johnson faces a THIRD probe over ‘Wallpapergate’: Prime Minister under threat of another inquiry into lavish Downing Street flat revamp

  • Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday said the parliamentary sleaze watchdog should resign
  • Boris Johnson is facing new sleaze investigations over the Wallpapergate row 
  • The Electoral Commission are currently looking into No 10’s lavish refurbishment
  • Sleaze watchdog Kathryn Stone will then decide whether to probe the scandal  

Boris Johnson is facing the threat of a new probe into the lavish revamp of his Downing Street flat by the Commons sleaze watchdog he has attempted to undermine.

The Prime Minister was forced last night to deny claims that his botched effort to overhaul the standards process had been a ‘pre-emptive’ strike on Kathryn Stone.

Cabinet minister Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday suggested the parliamentary standards commissioner’s role was untenable in the wake of the row over Owen Paterson.

Now it can be revealed that the PM himself stands to be investigated by Miss Stone.

The Daily Mail understands that the commissioner will make a decision on whether to launch an inquiry into the funding of the refurbishment as soon as a separate probe being conducted by the Electoral Commission has been completed.

Boris Johnson, pictured here with his wife Carrie during the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall in June, is facing a new sleaze probe into his affairs, this time in relation to the controversial refurbishment of his Downing Street flat

Boris Johnson commissioned eco-friendly interior designer Lulu Lytle whose gold wallpaper can cost as much as £840 a roll. Tory donor Lord Brownlow initially paid an invoice to over some of the costs before the BP settled the bill himself 

The Commission has handed over its initial findings to Tory party chiefs who now have an opportunity to respond.

Tory donor Lord Brownlow paid an invoice to cover some of the costs for the works, effectively giving Mr Johnson a loan, before the PM eventually settled the bill himself. However, this was not declared until after the Mail published a string of exposes. Eco-friendly interior designer Lulu Lytle was hired to transform the flat with gold wallpaper costing as much as £840 a roll.

Lord Geidt, the ministerial standards adviser, earlier this year found Mr Johnson did not breach the ministerial code but acted ‘unwisely’ in allowing the refurbishment to go ahead without ‘more rigorous regard for how this would be funded’.

The Electoral Commission is carrying out a separate investigation into whether donations to the party were properly declared.

An inquiry by Miss Stone would be the third probe into the matter if she goes ahead. Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner requested in June that she investigate. Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s former chief aide, yesterday claimed in a tweet that the Government’s bid to change the standards process to spare Mr Paterson from being punished was actually ‘a pre-emptive strike by [the] PM on [the] EC (Electoral Commission) and [Miss] Stone’.

But No 10 denied the planned overhaul had been designed to protect Mr Johnson’s own interests. Mr Johnson has repeatedly clashed with Parliament’s sleaze watchdogs. In July, he was criticised for failing to explain promptly how a £15,000 holiday in Mustique was paid for.

He was also found by Miss Stone to have breached the code of conduct over the 2020 New Year break but escaped with a slap on the wrist as the committee on standards overruled her.

The committee said it was nevertheless ‘regrettable’ that a full explanation was not given before.

The probe began in February last year after the Mail revealed there were questions over who paid for the PM’s ten-day stay on the luxury Caribbean island. He had claimed the £15,000 cost of his accommodation was a gift from Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross.

But the multimillionaire businessman said he did not own the villa and had not paid for it use. Following an investigation, Miss Stone found Mr Johnson breached the MPs’ code by having not ‘fulfilled conscientiously’ requirements for registering the stay. After the committee received the commissioner’s report, its chairman Labour MP Chris Bryant wrote to Mr Johnson and Mr Ross demanding more information.

Their replies revealed an ‘ad hoc arrangement’ under which the Mustique Company paid the owners of the villa Mr Johnson stayed in and Mr Ross reimbursed them.

So the committee concluded Mr Ross was the funder of Mr Johnson’s accommodation, meaning the PM’s first declaration was accurate. But it said: ‘This matter could have been concluded many months ago if more strenuous efforts had been made to dispel the uncertainty.’

Boris Johnson admits he got a free holiday at pal Goldsmith’s family villa

The Prime Minister yesterday confirmed that he enjoyed a free holiday in a luxury Spanish villa owned by Zac Goldsmith’s family.

He spent around a week at the property in the hills above Marbella last month following the Conservative Party conference.

In the latest register of ministerial interests, Boris Johnson revealed the getaway was funded by Lord Goldsmith, the former MP to whom he gave a peerage after he lost his Commons seat.

The value of the holiday was not stated, although this will have to be declared on the separate Commons register of financial interests. Stays in the Costa del Sol holiday home set in 600 acres of grounds have previously been marketed at up to £25,000 a week.

The register published yesterday said: ‘The Prime Minister has a longstanding personal friendship with the Goldsmith family and, in that capacity, in October 2021, stayed in a holiday home in southern Spain which was provided free of charge by the Goldsmiths.

‘Given Lord Goldsmith is a Minister of the Crown, the arrangement has accordingly been declared.’

The Prime Minister yesterday confirmed that he enjoyed a free holiday in a luxury Spanish villa, pictured, owned by Zac Goldsmith’s family

Mr Johnson holidayed with his pregnant wife Carrie and their son Wilf. It has been described as a ‘babymoon’ before the birth of their second child later this year.

At the time, Downing Street argued it was important for everyone to ‘take a break’ as it defended the decision to go on holiday during the energy crisis.

A No 10 spokesman said Mr Johnson remained ‘in charge’ of the country and was talking to world leaders including Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman while at the villa, which has tennis courts and three swimming pools.

Lord Goldsmith lost his Richmond Park seat in the 2019 election. He was given a peerage by Mr Johnson so he could remain a junior minister.

 

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