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If there was one scandal Boris Johnson wished would stay in 2021, it would be the dubious refurbishment of his Downing Street flat. The Prime Minister has been criticised by his ethics adviser, Lord Geidt, for failing to disclose WhatsApp messages between himself and Lord Brownlow, the man who paid £58,000 towards the cost of the makeover.
In a letter to the PM, Geidt said the handling of the original investigation last spring was “plainly unsatisfactory” and a “threat to public confidence”. He adds that the fiasco “shook my confidence precisely because potential and real failures of process occurred in more than one part of the apparatus of government”. His comments come a month after the Conservative Party was fined £18,000 by the Electoral Commission for failing to declare the donation.
Johnson has offered his “humble and sincere apologies” for acting “unwisely” and not making the exchanges available to Geidt. In his letter to the watchdog, he said replacing his phone number due to “security issues” was the reason he failed to declare the exchange. Ultimately, Geidt’s clears Boris of breaching the ministerial code, but he does not appear to deliver Johnson a full exoneration. Geidt says that had he been aware of the missing Whatsapps, he would not have concluded that the PM “took steps to make the relevant declaration and to seek advice”.
New year, same old mistakes.
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