Defence secretary, Ben Wallace, denied claims of Tory Sleaze surrounding Johnson’s refurbishment of Downing Street, saying: “The Prime Minister has complied at all stages with the rules and we’ve been very clear on that.
“We have engaged with the Electoral Commission and we will continue to engage with that.”
The Defence Secretary’s comments came after allegations that the PM asked Conservative donors to secretly pay for Downing Street refurbishments. Asked about the allegations, Wallace told the Today Programme that Mr Johnson had paid “out of his own pocket” for the Downing Street upgrade.
A few days before, then International Trade Secretary Liz Truss also insisted the Conservative Party leader had complied fully with the rules and had paid for the refurbishment, which reportedly ran to £200,000, out of his own pocket.
But during a round of broadcast interviews, both Mr Wallace and Ms Truss repeatedly refused to say whether the bill was initially settled by the Tory Party, or one of its donors, in which case it should have been declared as a loan under party funding rules.
On December 9th 2021 The Electoral Commission concluded the Conservative Party had not properly declared a donation made in connection with the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat. The Electoral Commission stated: “Our investigation looked at whether any transactions relating to works at 11 Downing Street fell within the party finance regime regulated by the Commission and whether any such transactions were recorded and reported as required.
“The evidence showed that the Conservative Party received a donation of £67,801.72 from Huntswood Associates Limited in October 2020 – £52,801.72 of which was to cover the cost of three invoices relating to the refurbishment of Downing Street. £15,000 was reported as a donation in the party’s Q4 2020 donation report; the remaining £52,801.72 was not.
“Our investigation concluded that the full amount of the £67,801.72 was a donation and should have been reported to the Commission. We also concluded that the reference to the payment made by the party for the refurbishment in the party’s financial records was not accurately recorded.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was pushing his luck when he claimed that Boris Johnson had complied with the rules “at all stages”.