Whitehall’s most senior mandarin is investigating amid row over Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat makeover
- Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is investigating the refurbishment of the flat
- It is claimed a Tory party donor paid £58,000 towards the price of the bill
- Carrie Symonds wanted to use wall paper from exclusive designer Lulu Lytle
- The £58,000 donation has not been registered with the Electoral Commission
The row over the makeover of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat escalated last night after it emerged Whitehall’s most senior mandarin is now investigating the matter.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has reportedly intervened in the claims that the Tory Party secretly paid £58,000 towards the bill – and then tried to cover it up.
The dramatic development comes two days after the Daily Mail published leaked emails from Conservative donor Lord Brownlow to Tory Party co-chairman Ben Elliot.
Boris Jonson, pictured, is facing questions on how he financed a six-figure refurbishment of his flat at 11 Downing Street – including designer wallpaper chosen by his partner Carrie Symonds
It is claimed Tory donor Lord Brownlow covered £58,000 of the costs for the makeover which included expensive wallpaper by interior designer Lulu Lytle, pictured an example of the designer’s work
The Labour Party has written to the elections watchdog to demand an investigation into the refit, which has been dubbed Wallpaper-gate
The emails showed that Lord Brownlow told Mr Elliot last October that he had paid £58,000 to Tory HQ to cover the same amount spent by the party months earlier on the flat refit.
The £58,000 was to be attributed as having come not from Lord Brownlow or the Tory Party but from a ‘soon to be formed Downing St Trust’ that had not yet been formed – and still does not exist, officially.
Well-placed sources said it was proof of an attempt to cover up the way party funds were secretly used to help pay for the refurbishment of Mr Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds’ Number 11 Downing Street official flat. The makeover, which included expensive wallpaper, by interior designer Lulu Lytle reportedly cost a six-figure sum.
It came as Labour wrote to the elections watchdog to demand an investigation into the refit, which has been dubbed Wallpaper-gate.
Senior figures have questioned why such a powerful individual as Mr Case was getting involved in the affair. Whitehall sources told Sky News they were concerned it could be a distraction from key priorities such as Covid and Brexit.
One member of Government said: ‘I’m astonished that Simon has got involved in this himself. It has so much potential to go wrong.’ Fleur Anderson, Labour’s Cabinet Office spokesman, said it was ‘strange’ the Cabinet Secretary has intervened with this when there are ‘far more pressing issues to deal with’.
The Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, pictured, is reportedly looking into the scandal dubbed wallpaper-gate
Lulu Lytle’s work his highly sought after in certain circles, pictured an example of her work
The £58,000 donation was not reported to the Electoral Commission and the watchdog has yet to start a formal investigation. But shadow minister Cat Smith told the commission that after the Mail’s latest email revelation, a full probe is necessary.
This newspaper disclosed last month that Tory funds were used to help pay for decor for the flat and that Mr Johnson’s advisers planned to set up a ‘Downing St Trust’ with the publicly stated aim of ‘preserving Downing St for the nation’.
Privately, No 10 sources admitted it was partly intended to hide the fact Conservative funds intended to fund campaigns were used to pay for the flat – as well as recoup the cash.
A Conservative spokesman said: ‘All reportable donations to the Conservative Party are correctly declared to the Electoral Commission… Gifts and benefits received in a ministerial capacity are, and will continue to be, declared in Government transparency returns.’
The Electoral Commission said it is determining whether the sums relating to the refit ‘fall within the regime regulated by the commission’.
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