Connect with us


UK Electoral Commission  investigates Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat renovations

The Electoral Commission has launched an investigation into the funding of works on Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, the official residence of the British Prime Minister.

According to the BBC report, the spending watchdog said there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.

The Prime Minister is under growing pressure to declare how refurbishments were paid for after his ex-adviser said there was a plan for donors to “secretly pay”.

Mr Johnson told MPs he had covered the revamp “personally”, but would not say who had paid the initial bill.

And, speaking at the government’s Covid press conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock repeatedly refused to comment on the funding of the refurbishment, urging the media to “concentrate on the big things that really matter”.

“What is the row over Boris Johnson’s flat about?

“What are the rules governing political donations?
PM: I didn’t make ‘bodies pile high’ remark
The prime minister receives an annual public grant of £30,000 to carry out renovations to his Downing Street flat each year – but newspaper reports suggest the bill for the latest renovations could be as high as £200,000.

In its investigation, the commission – the independent watchdog regulating UK political finance – will assess the Conservative Party’s compliance with laws on political donations.

It will examine whether any spending on the flat falls within its remit and if it was published as required.

The commission can impose fines if breaches are found, or pass on allegations to the police if it sees fit.

During fraught exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pushed Mr Johnson to explain who had paid the initial invoice for renovations – asking whether it was the taxpayer, the Conservative Party, a private donor or Mr Johnson himself.

He accused the government of being “mired in sleaze, cronyism and scandal”.

But Mr Johnson replied: “The answer is I have covered the costs… I conformed in full with the code of conduct and officials have kept advising me through this whole thing.”

The Treasury has revealed that Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Mr Johnson’s neighbour in Downing Street, also redecorated his flat last year, saying the costs were paid “upfront and entirely at his own expense”.

“Baffling” – that is one cabinet source’s verdict on how No 10 is handling the allegations about the renovations of the Downing Street flat.

Matt Hancock repeatedly wouldn’t engage in questions on the matter at Wednesday’s press conference.

And Boris Johnson wouldn’t answer the central question in the Commons earlier during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions, where he looked more red-faced and furious than can be recalled.

The question is a simple one. Who paid the bill for the Downing Street flat makeover at the start?

And for as long as the PM won’t answer that, the question will be asked again, and again, and again.

No 10 has also confirmed the appointment of a new independent adviser on ministers’ interests.

Crossbench peer Lord Geidt will take up the role, unfilled for five months since the resignation of Sir Alex Allan in November 2020.

Sir Alex quit after Mr Johnson rejected his finding that Home Secretary Priti Patel had broken the ministerial code over bullying allegations.

Downing Street also confirmed Lord Geidt would carry out his own inquiry into the funding of the renovations and “advise the prime minister on any further registration of interests that may be needed”.

However, the prime minister’s spokesman later said Mr Johnson “remains the ultimate arbiter” of the ministerial code – setting out rules of conduct – and would decide whether to accept or reject any findings.

The prime minister’s former senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, claimed last week that Mr Johnson had once planned to have donors “secretly pay” for the work on his flat.

He described the move as “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” and said the PM “almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended”.

No 10 has refused to say whether the prime minister initially received a loan to cover the costs, but Downing Street has insisted the prime minister “acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law”.

Refusing to answer questions on the flat at the Covid press conference, Mr Hancock said: “It is important that there are questions, and there were endless questions in the House of Commons earlier on some of the issues that you raise, and you will have seen the appointment of Lord Geidt earlier.

“But you have also got to concentrate on the big things that really matter”

The UK  Electoral Commission was established in 2001.

It is an independent body that regulates political finance in the UK, including donations to political parties.
Parties, campaigners, and other groups are required to report donations and loans over a certain amount – which are then published.

The watchdog monitors whether the rules are being followed and has powers to ensure they are enforced.

As well as being able to refer investigations to the police, it can hand out its own sanctions under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

It can issue investigation notices, disclosure orders and can carry out interviews – as well as impose fines of up to £20,000, which can increase if payments are late.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


David Nwamini, Ekweremadu accuser, seeks asylum in UK

” they will kill me if I come to Nigeria” — he pleads to court

The eyewitness reporter
David Nwamini, the accuser of Senator Ike Ekweremadu who sent the lawmaker to 10 years jail term in the United Kingdom over an organ trafficking case, has raised an alarm that he may be killed in Nigeria if he comes back.
Consequently, he has asked the court to allow him to stay back in the UK for safety reasons.
“They would arrest me and kill me in Nigeria” he reportedly told the court.
His impact statement was read in court, at the sentencing that saw Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice, 56, and the doctor-middleman, Obinna Obeta, 51, jailed, for 10 years and 8 months, 4 years and six months, and 10 years, respectively.

The three were found guilty at the Old Bailey of conspiring to arrange the travel of a young man with a view to exploiting him for his body part.

The Ekweremadus’ 25-year-old daughter, Sonia, has a severe kidney disease. It was for her the donor was sourced and brought to the UK.

According to David, he was approached with an opportunity to work in the UK, which he had always dreamed of but never thought would happen.

“He (Dr Obina Obeta) did not tell me he brought me here for this reason. He did not tell me anything about this.

“I would have not agreed to any of this. My body is not for sale.

“I worry for my safety in Nigeria. Those people can do anything. I think they could arrest me or kill me in Nigeria.

“My plan now is to work and to get an education and to play football,” David said, adding that he does not want to claim compensation from the “bad people” as it would be “cursed and bad luck”.

He also said someone visited his father in Nigeria and asked the father to get him to drop the case.

Although it is lawful to donate a kidney, it becomes criminal if there is a reward.

The Ekweremadus were arrested on June 21 last year as they arrived at Heathrow Airport.

Continue Reading


UK court shuns Nigeria, ECOWAS pleas as it sentences Ekweremadu to 10 years imprisonment for organ trafficking


The eyewitness reporter

The United Kingdom court on Friday sentenced former Deputy Senate President of Nigeria, Ike Ekweremadu, to nine years and eight months in prison for organ trafficking plot.
This was despite the plea for clemency made by the Nigerian government and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that the court should temper justice with mercy.
The court also sentenced his wife, Beatrice, to four years six months while the medical doctor, who act as a ‘middleman’ in the plot, Dr Obinna Obeta, was sentenced to 10 years and his medical licence was also suspended.
The Ekweremadus’ daughter Sonia, who has a serious kidney condition, wept as she was cleared of the same charge.
Mr Justice Johnson told the defendants: “In each of your cases the offence you committed is so serious that neither a fine nor a community sentence can be justified.”
It was alleged that the 21-year-old street trader was to be rewarded for donating the organ to Sonia Ekweremadu, in an £80,000 private procedure at London’s Royal Free Hospital.
The case marked the first-time defendants have been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act of an organ harvesting conspiracy.
While it is lawful to donate a kidney, it becomes criminal if money or another material advantage is rewarded.
The prosecution claimed the donor was offered up to £7,000 along with the promise of a better life in the UK.
The donor did not understand until his first appointment with a consultant at the hospital that he was there for a kidney transplant, the Old Bailey was told
On March 23, the jury pronounced a guilty verdict on the senator, his wife, Beatrice, and Obinna Obeta, a doctor who acted as the middleman.
The jury held that they conspired to bring the 21-year-old at the centre of the matter to London to exploit him for his kidney.


Continue Reading


Nigeria missing as UNCTAD lists top African countries in service exports.


The Eyewitness reporter

Nigeria was not listed among the top five countries in Africa in service exports in 2021 as Egypt tops the list as announced by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in December.

According to the report, Egypt topped African countries regarding services exports in 2021 by around $20 billion

 Egypt has also come second in maritime routes in Africa in the third quarter (Q3) of 2022.
According to the report, Egypt has achieved a considerable growth in services exports by 45.5 percent year-on-year in 2021.

Morocco followed Egypt in services exports then Ghana, South Africa, and Ethiopia.

Egypt also came third on the list of the top five countries regarding goods exports in Africa in 2021 by around $40 billion, achieving growth of around 60 percent year-on-year.

In maritime routes, Egypt was preceded by Morocco, South Africa, then Ghana, and Togo.

Earlier this month, Egypt announced a plan to develop Egyptian commodity exports to African countries to reach $15 billion during the coming few years.

Egypt’s exports to Africa have increased by 25.4 percent during Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2021, the Cabinet said in a statement in mid-December.

According to Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Egypt’s exports to the African Union countries have reached more than $5.4 billion in 2021 compared to around $3.9 billion in 2020.

Libya, Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, and Kenya received more than 60 percent of Egyptian exports, according to CAPMAS.

Continue Reading