Downing Street flat refurb saga looks 'very unhappy' for Boris Johnson, LBC hears

6 January 2022, 17:47 | Updated: 6 January 2022, 21:07

By Sam Sholli

A controversial Downing Street flat refurbishment saga looks "very unhappy" for Boris Johnson, former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Sir Alistair Graham tells LBC.

His comment comes as Boris Johnson has apologised to ministerial standards adviser Lord Geidt for a failure to provide messages between himself and a Tory peer on the subject.

Newly-disclosed messages, which were sent in November 2020, show that the Prime Minister told Lord David Brownlow his residence was a "bit of a tip" and he was "keen" to get a luxury interior designer to "get on with it".

Boris Johnson has apologised to Lord Geidt claimed he did not have access to the phone from which he engaged in the WhatsApp correspondence and that he "did not recall the message exchange".

Lord Geidt said the episode “shook [his] confidence precisely because potential and real failures of process occurred in more than one part of the apparatus of government”.

Former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life Sir Alistair Graham told LBC's Eddie Mair: "Well, it all looks a very unhappy saga as far as Boris Johnson is concerned.

"Clearly Lord Geidt has been personally distressed by the way that Downing Street officials have provided less than full information about the exchanges with Lord Brownlow.

"And I think it comes down, in the end, [to if] you believe what the Prime Minister is saying [when he says] that he didn't know that Lord Brownlow was providing a substantial part of the funds for the refurbishment of his flat.

"And I think it puts the Prime Minister in a particularly unsavoury light."

Later in the exchange, Eddie asked Sir Alistair: "Do you believe the Prime Minister?"

Sir Alistair replied: "In this particular occasion, no I don't."

He went on to say that the "nature of these WhatsApp messages with Lord Brownlow suggest a degree of intimacy and of understanding of what was going on".

He added: "And therefore I'd be very surprised if he didn't know that he his finances were being relieved to some extent by the donations by Lord Brownlow on a personal basis."

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