The Conservative party has been fined £17,800 for breaching electoral law over the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat.
The Electoral Commission found that rules over donations “were not followed” and that cash used to fund the renovations was not registered through the proper channels.
The commission found the party did not fully report a £67,801.72 donation given by Tory donor Lord David Brownlow in October 2020, which was used for the flat refurbishment.
The Prime Minister later said he paid back the sum and that it was a loan, but the original donation was not fully registered in the first place.
The report also suggests that Johnson may have lied about the donations to Lord Christopher Geidt – the government’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests – in his independent probe of the saga.
Johnson told Geidt that he did not know who had paid for the renovations until February 2021, however the Electoral Commission report found that the Prime Minister texted Barlow three months prior to ask for more money.
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.”
A Conservative party spokesperson said: “The Conservative party has received notification from the Electoral Commission that, in their judgement, the manner in which a payment was reported represented a technical breach of reporting requirements under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act.
“We have been in constant contact with the Electoral Commission with regards to this matter and have sought their advice as to how the transaction should be reported since it was made.
“We are considering whether to appeal this decision and will make a decision within 28 working days.”