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Boris Johnson flat renovation: Parliament watchdog will not open investigation after text messages surface

The Prime Minister will not be investigated after Whatsapp messages released last week showed that he had exchanges with the Tory donor who funded his flat refurbishment

<p>The Parliament Watchdog will not ope an investigation into Boris Johnson Downing Street flat refurbishment, Number 10 has confirmed. (Credit: Getty)</p>

The Parliament Watchdog will not ope an investigation into Boris Johnson Downing Street flat refurbishment, Number 10 has confirmed. (Credit: Getty)

Boris Johnson will not face investigation from the parliamentary watchdog after questions were raised over his text exchanges with the Tory donor who funded the project.

Last week saw Whatsapp exchanges between the Prime Minister and Lord Brownlow discussing the refurbishment and consequent meetings not relating to the project leaked after Mr Johnson’s adviser on ministerial interests, Lord Geidt, revealed that the Prime Minister had failed to tell him about the exchanges.

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Following the leak, Labour had urged Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, to launch an inquiry into the refurbishment.

However, Number 10 has now confirmed that no such investigation will take place.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Boris Johnson will not face a parliamentary inquiry into whether he broke rules while discussing a £112,000 flat refurbishment being funded by a Tory donor
  • In a leaked text chain, Mr Johnson was seen discussing the flat refurbishments and problems with the project, which Lord Brownlow agreed to fund
  • In response, Lord Brownlow asked that the Prime Minister consider a “Great Exhibition 2.0” event, with the Prime Minister appearing to promise to consider the plan
  • The Prime Minister was forced to apologise last week after the text messages were not made available to his independent ministerial interests adviser, Lord Geidt, during the initial investigation into the refurbishment last spring
  • The leaked text chain led to political opponents such as the Labour party call for a fresh inquiry, however Number 10 has confirmed that Kathryn Stone will not be investigating the issue any further

What was said in the test messages?

The text messages between Boris Johnson and Lord Brownlow, which were released last week, showed a conversation between the Prime Minister and the Tory donor concerning Mr Johnson’s flat refurbishment.

In the messages, Mr Johnson asked for “approvals” from Lord Brownlow, who was funding the project, so that his decorator Lulu Lytle could “get on with it”.

He signed off the message with one which read: “PS am on the great exhibition plan Will revert.”

In response to this, Lord Brownlow replied: “Of course, get Lulu to call me and we’ll get it sorted ASAP! Thanks for thinking about GE2.”

A few weeks after the exchange, records show that Lord Brownlow met with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to discuss plans for the Great Exhibition-style event.

What was said about the text messages?

The Prime Minister was forced to issue a “humble and sincere” apology after it was revealed that the text chain had not been offered as evidence to Lord Geidt, his independent ministerial interests adviser, while he was investigating the flat refurbishment last spring.

During the investigation, Lord Geidt found that Mr Johnson did not break ministerial rules, however he did criticise the Prime Minister for acting “unwisely”.

After the text messages between Mr Johnson and Lord Brownlow were released, the Labour party called on the parliamentary standards watchdog, Kathryn Stone, to open a new investigation into the project and how it was funded.

Shadow justice secretary steve Reed told BBC Radio 4 that there were questions to be asked over potential “cash for access”, adding that Lord Brownlow “appears to have access to the Prime Minister because he was paying for the flat renovations”.

He added: “If that is the case, that is corruption.

“And what we’re seeing here is a case of, potentially, cash for access where Lord Brownlow was given access to ministers to try and influence them over decisions of spending taxpayers’ money – that is why this matters so immensely.

“Those very cosy text messages show there was a quid pro quo in operation between the prime minister and Lord Brownlow, and we need to get to the absolute bottom of this.”

However, Number 10 confirmed today that Mr Johnson would not be investigated by Ms Stone regarding the funding of the flat renovations.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It is not for me to speak on behalf of her, but I understand she has confirmed they won’t be looking at that.”

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