Exclusive: First pictures of Downing Street White House-style media briefing room
By ITV News UK Producer Nathan Lee
ITV News can reveal a £2.6m renovation of No.9 Downing Street that will be used to televise White House-style media briefings. The project has proved controversial, already suffering a number of setbacks and delays at significant cost.
The images show a plush new studio, with seating for journalists, official Downing Street lecterns and four Union Jack flags.
It came in for widespread criticism when the true cost of the installation was revealed in a Freedom of Information request last week.
Labour Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “Given how much money Boris Johnson has thrown at his latest vanity project, we were expecting something a bit more impressive."
The briefings will be fronted by the Prime Minister's spokesperson and former ITV News journalist, Allegra Stratton - and it's believed the idea was the brainchild of former director of communications, Lee Cain, who left Downing Street in December.
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ITV News understands there are questions being raised over the involvement of a Russian owned company, which was hired to carry out crucial work installing equipment - including microphones, control desks, cameras and computers.
Megahertz, the company contracted to install communications equipment, is owned by Okno-TV, a Moscow-based company that works closely with state controlled broadcaster Russia Today.
Mr Reeves said: "This raises serious questions on who is getting rushed-through government contracts.
"And that's before we even get to why our nurses are getting a pay cut while the government spends millions on a media briefing room.
“The fact the government seems to have simply brushed this off with no further transparency or assurances on how they're spending British taxpayer money is deeply concerning.”
There is no suggestion Megahertz is working under the influence of the Kremlin.
A source told ITV News: "A Russian owned firm has been installing all of the communications equipment in Number 10.
"Questions need to be asked, the company does big installations for a number of organisations - but this is government."
The true cost of the installation was revealed last week - £1,848,695.12 for the "main works", other costs included £198,023.75 on "long lead items" and £33,394.63 on "broadband equipment." The Prime Minister's spokesperson, Allegra Stratton, said: "All the correct processes have been followed, there are no concerns for our team." Megahertz declined to comment on their involvement with Number 10.
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