UK’s Johnson faces formal probe into funding of apartment renovation
Britain’s Electoral Commission opened a formal investigation into the financing of the refurbishment of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street apartment, saying there were grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed.
Eight days before local elections across England, as well as the election of the Welsh and Scottish regional assemblies, Johnson is facing a stream of allegations about everything from his muddled initial handling of the Covid-19 crisis to questions about who leaked what from his office.
“We are now satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred,” the Electoral Commission said of the financing of the apartment above Number 11 Downing Street where Johnson resides.
“We will therefore continue this work as a formal investigation to establish whether this is the case,” the commission said.
The investigation will determine whether any transactions relating to the works fall within the regime regulated by the commission and whether such funding was reported as required.
If it finds that an offence has occurred – and that there is sufficient evidence – then the commission can issue a fine or refer the matter to the police.
Asked last month about the refurbishment, Johnson’s spokeswoman said all donations, gifts and benefits were properly declared, and that no Conservative Party funds were being used to pay for the refurbishment.
Though Johnson has over the years repeatedly weathered gaffes, crises over Brexit and disclosures about his adultery, he is now grappling with an array of accusations which opponents say show he is unfit for office.
The opposition says the allegations show Johnson’s government is riddled by sleaze and cronyism, including lobbying by former Prime Minister David Cameron on behalf of the finance company Greensill Capital.