Anger over reports Prime Minister will be cleared again for breach of ministerial law

Boris Johnson has “made a mockery” of the standards expected of him, Labor has said, amid reports, that he will again be acquitted of violating the Ministerial Act in connection with the renovation of his apartment in Downing Street.

The Financial Times reported that the prime minister’s behavior would be “criticized”, with standard ministerial adviser Lord Geidt describing the situation to colleagues as “deeply unsatisfactory”.

But the newspaper said it was implied that Mr Johnson would be acquitted of breaking the code.

It quoted a senior official as saying: “Geidt makes it clear that the situation is a total mess. But at the same time, the basic conclusion is that the Prime Minister did not deceive and did not break the Ministerial Act.”

Lord Geidt has previously acquitted Mr Johnson of violating the code in relation to the financing of the apartment renovation, but has since reconsidered his initial inquiry in the wake of a recent inquiry from the Election Commission, FT said.

The commission fined the Conservatives £ 17,800 after finding that the party had not complied with the law on donations from Lord Brownlow to help cover the works in the apartment above number 11.

Lord Geidt
Lord Geidt previously acquitted Mr Johnson of violating the Code in relation to the financing of the apartment renovation (Dominic Lipinski / PA)

The watchdog’s report raised further questions by discussing evidence that Mr Johnson had sent the Tory peer a WhatsApp message in November 2020 “in which he asked him to approve further, at the time unspecified, renovation work on the dwelling”, which he agreed to in.

This was despite the fact that Mr Johnson had told Lord Geidt that he was not aware of the payments until immediately before media reports in February 2021.

FT reported that government advisers said Lord Geidt had now seen all relevant WhatsApp messages and concluded that there was no breach of the code.

But the newspaper said the prime minister’s behavior would be criticized.

It said that according to several Whitehall officials with knowledge of Lord Geidt’s latest investigation, “three or four” letters had been exchanged with No. 10 about the latest revelations that may be published in the new year.

The FT reported that a source said of the inquiry: “There is enough in those letters to raise eyebrows. The Prime Minister has apologized for some of the circumstances surrounding the initial inquiry which Lord Geidt has accepted.

Labor claimed that Mr Johnson had “made a mockery” of the standards expected of him.

Deputy Angela Rayner said: “After the Electoral Commission ruled that the Conservative Party broke the law on declaring donations, the Prime Minister has mocked the standards that the public has a right to expect.

“While the British public is facing a cost of living crisis, Boris Johnson is busy writing to his own adviser about why he did not give him all the information he needed for his investigation.

“Lord Geidt should publish all his correspondence with the Prime Minister as a first step towards providing full transparency in how Boris Johnson explains away his WhatsApp messages with Tory donors.

“It’s embarrassing that when the country needs genuine leadership, Boris Johnson is busy trying to clean up his own personal mess.”

Downing Street and the Election Commission declined to comment.

The Cabinet Office told FT: “We are not commenting on speculation”.

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