The Electoral Commission is now carrying out an official examination into the funding of the prime minister’s repair of his Downing Street flat.
Why is the investigation occurring?
Questions have actually been growing over how and when Boris Johnson’s revamp of his personal flat, above 11 Downing Street, was paid for.
In leaked e-mails, it recently emerged that multimillionaire Tory donor Lord Brownlow offered the Conservative Party a ₤ 58,000 donation in 2015.
The money, according to emails seen by the Daily Mail, was to “cover the payments the party has actually currently made on behalf of the quickly to be formed ‘Downing Street Trust'”.
In the e-mails to Conservative Celebration authorities from October, the Tory peer was also reported to have actually pointed out a ₤ 15,000 donation.
However, just the ₤ 15,000 donation has actually been listed on Electoral Commission records, with secret surrounding the other ₤ 58,000 sum.
It has been confirmed that the federal government has, considering that last spring, been checking out whether a trust could be established to help fund upgrades of the prime minister’s residence in Downing Street, with Lord Brownlow having accepted be its chair.
However no such trust presently exists and Mr Johnson is now said to have “personally” paid for the expenses of a “broader refurbishment” of the flat.
What will the Electoral Commission examination include?
According to the Electoral Commission, they have actually been in contact with the Conservative Party because late March and have “performed an assessment of the info they have supplied to us”.
The guard dog have actually now been “satisfied that there are affordable grounds to believe that an offence or offences might have occurred” and so they have released a formal investigation to “develop whether this is the case”.
” The investigation will identify whether any deals connecting to the works at 11 Downing Street fall within the program regulated by the Commission and whether such funding was reported as needed,” a spokesperson stated.
Who is the Electoral Commission?
The Electoral Commission is an independent body which supervises elections and controls political financing in the UK.
Their aim is to “promote public self-confidence in the democratic procedure and ensure its integrity”.
The length of time will the investigation take?
There is no sense of for how long the Electoral Commission examination might last, with previous inquiries conducted by the guard dog having actually taken differing amounts of time.
For example, an examination into Conservative Celebration campaign spending returns was opened in February 2016 but it wasn’t till more than a year later on – in March 2017 – when the Electoral Commission revealed their findings.
Another recent investigation, into the Labour-supporting Momentum group, took 16 months to reach a conclusion.
What has the prime minister said?
Mr Johnson has actually said he “covered the expenses” of the flat repair which no guidelines or laws had been broken in relation to the works.
” The answer is that I have covered the costs,” he has told MPs. “I have met the requirements that I have actually been required to satisfy completely.”
Nevertheless, he has actually not straight addressed concerns about who paid for preliminary invoices.
Both Number 10 and the Conservative Celebration have actually not denied reports that the Conservative Project Head Office (CCHQ) paid the Cabinet Workplace to cover preliminary expenses of the works.
Downing Street has stated the prime minister will be “delighted to help” if the Electoral Commission requests any details from him during its investigation.
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Who could potentially be linked?
It is the Conservative Celebration that is the subject of the examination and not the prime minister directly.
However, as Tory leader, Mr Johnson would be expected to take obligation for any findings against his celebration.
The prime minister’s press secretary has said: “This is a matter for the Conservative Celebration as a political party and CCHQ have stated they will continue to work constructively with the Electoral Commission on this matter.
” They will offer all essential information to assist the Commission.
” The prime minister hasn’t been asked for any info however he and the government will of course be happy to help if asked.”
What are the possible penalties?
The Electoral Commission can release fines of in between ₤ 200 to an optimum of ₤ 20,000 for breaches of electoral law.
They can likewise refer investigations to the authorities for the worst offenses.
Private investigators can require documents, info and explanations, and could potentially look for a statutory interview with the prime minister as part of the process.
What has the Conservative Celebration said?
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We believe all reportable donations have actually been transparently and correctly stated and released by the Electoral Commission.
” We will continue to work constructively with the Electoral Commission on this matter. While an examination is continuous we will not be commenting further.”
Are there any other queries?
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the leading civil servant, has actually informed MPs he is evaluating the issue of the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat.
Meanwhile, Lord Geidt – the prime minister’s newly-appointed independent consultant on ministers’ interests – has been tasked with “determining the realities surrounding” the remodelling of the home and advising Mr Johnson “on any additional registration of interests that might be required”.