Boris Johnson acted 'unwisely' over Downing Street flat refurbishment funding but cleared of breaking ministerial code

ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener explains what the report found and what it means for the PM

The Prime Minister "unwisely" allowed the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat to go ahead without "more rigorous regard" of how it was funded but did not break the ministerial code, a report has found.

Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministers' interests, said there was a "significant failing" from officials in their examining the idea of setting up a trust to fund renovations to Downing Street.

The report found a Tory donor paid some of the costs for the refurbishment but the prime minister knew "nothing about" the payment until reports surfaced in the media.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to travel to Parliament Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The PM can use an annual public grant of up to £30,000 to decorate his Downing Street home, but it has been reported that the renovations at No 11, where Mr Johnson lives with his fiancée Carrie Symonds, reached up to £200,000.

In the delayed report on Minister's interest published on Friday, Lord Geidt said: "I have also the prime minister who confirms that he knew nothing about such payments (made by Tory donor Lord Brownlow) until immediately prior to media reports in February 2021.

"At that point, the prime minister immediately sought the necessary advice about his interests and, as a consequence, settled the full amount himself on March 8 2021."

He added: "It is clear from the record that while a serious and genuine endeavour, the (Downing Street) Trust was not subjected to a scheme of rigorous project management by officials."

He continued: "Given the level of the prime minister's expectations for the trust to deliver on the objects he had set, this was a significant failing.

"Instead, the prime minister - unwisely, in my view - allowed the refurbishment of the apartment at No 11 Downing Street to proceed without more rigorous regard for how this would be funded."

The report also found that the Health Secretary Matt Hancock committed "a minor breach of the Ministerial Code" over his declarations of investments in his sister and brother-in-law's company.

Lord Geidt said: "I believe there to be a danger that a reasonable person might perceive this link to represent a conflict of interest, and that it should have been declared at the time."

He added, however, the failure to declare the interest was due to a "lack of knowledge and in no way deliberate".

"I recognise that Mr Hancock has acted with integrity throughout and that this event should in no way impugn his good character or ministerial record."

A Number 10 spokesperson said: “Lord Geidt’s independent report shows the Prime Minister acted in accordance with the Ministerial Code at all times.

“The Prime Minister has made a declaration in his List of Ministerial Interests, as advised by Lord Geidt.

“Cabinet Office officials were engaged and informed throughout and official advice was followed.

“Other than works funded through the annual allowance, the costs of the wider refurbishment of the flat are not being financed by taxpayers and have been settled by the Prime Minister personally.”