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The Prime Minister was rebuked by standards chief Lord Geidt after secret Whatsapp exchanges were uncovered.
In a letter to Mr Johnson, the ethics adviser said it was “unsatisfactory” texts to Tory backer Lord Brownlow were not revealed to him, showing “insufficient” respect for his role.
Lord Geidt added: “Neither at the time when the Cabinet Office was collecting information ahead of my report, nor subsequently, was any attempt made to check for information relevant to my enquiries, such as the missing exchange.”
The messages were revealed last month by an Electoral Commission inquiry into how the revamp of the No 11 flat – described as “a bit of a tip” by the PM – was paid for.
Lord Geidt said it would not have changed the verdict of his investigation last year that cleared Mr Johnson of breaching the ministerial rulebook.
But the standards chief said he would have had further questions.
In a letter replying to Lord Geidt, Mr Johnson offered his “humble and sincere apology”.
The PM said the messages were sent from a previous mobile phone that he stopped using after a security breach and he “did not recall the message exchange”.
Mr Johnson added: “A fuller explanation of the circumstances should have been provided at the time of your investigation. I am sorry we did not do so.” Lord
Brownlow was tasked with setting up a charitable trust to fund the Downing Street flat renovation but the plan was later dropped.
An investigation by the elections watchdog found that a total of £112,549.12 had been paid by Huntswood Associates – whose director is Lord Brownlow – to cover the work by luxury firm Soane Britain, owned by interior designer Lulu Lytle.
The Prime Minister had assured Lord Geidt he had no knowledge of the payments until immediately prior to media reports in February 2021.
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On November 29, 2020, Mr Johnson sent a WhatsApp message to Lord Brownlow that said: “I am afraid parts of our flat are still a bit of a tip and am keen to allow Lulu Lytle to get on with it. Can I possibly ask her to get in touch with you for approvals?”
Lord Brownlow replied: “Of course, get Lulu to call me and we’ll get it sorted ASAP!”.
No 10 said describing the flat as a “tip” reflected “works were incomplete, which meant the further expenditure was necessary to complete them”.
The PM’s spokesman said: “There is an annual grant [of £30,000] for the Downing Street residences.”
But he added there were “extra costs…as has been set out”.
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