The Conservative Party has been fined £17,800 for failing to keep proper records over a donation to refurbish Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat.
An Electoral Commission investigation found that the party failed to fully report a donation of £67,801.72 from Huntswood Associates Limited in October 2020, including £52,801.72 connected to the costs of refurbishment to 11 Downing Street – where the Prime Minister lives.
The commission’s investigation found that decisions relating to the handling and recording of the donation reflected “serious failings in the party’s compliance systems”, with a fine of nearly £18,000 levied as punishment.
Boris and Carrie Johnson, his wife, have faced months of questions over the four-bed living space above 11 Downing Street – the traditional home the prime minister.
When the pair arrived in 2019, a Downing Street spokeswoman said there would not be “any additional cost to the taxpayer” of Mrs Johnson living there.
But she quickly removed Theresa May’s “John Lewis furniture nightmare”, according to an eye-popping piece in Tatler – just a decade after David and Samantha Cameron had a new £30,000 kitchen fitted.
The makeover is believed to have been inspired by designer Lulu Lytle, and included £840-a-roll wallpaper, a £9,800 Baby Bear sofa and a £3,000 Lily Drum table.
With a £30,000 cap on taxpayer cash contributing to the work, the prime minister had to find the rest of the cash himself – or from party donors.
But a number of “additional invoices” were received and paid by the Cabinet Office – and billed to the Tory party in July 2020.
Louise Edwards, director of regulation at the Electoral Commission, said: “Our investigation into the Conservative Party found that the laws around the reporting and recording of donations were not followed.
“We know that voters have concerns about the transparency of funding of political parties.
“Reporting requirements are in place so that the public can see where money is coming from, inaccurate reporting risks undermining trust in the system.
“The party’s decisions and actions reflected serious failings in its compliance systems.
“As a large and well-resourced political party that employs compliance and finance experts, and that has substantial sums of money going through its accounts, the Conservative Party should have sufficiently robust systems in place to meet its legal reporting requirements.”