Revealed: The £58,000 paper trail for Wallpapergate as report showing how the lavish Downing Street renovation WAS paid by the Tory party – then refunded after Boris Johnson was forced to foot bill
- Official report has revealed highly unusual funding arrangements for No 11
- Cabinet Office paid for £58k revamp but Tory peer was secretly asked to cover it
- Cabinet Office accounts show that entire money chain was reversed in March
The full astonishing details of how Boris and Carrie Johnson paid for the lavish makeover of the Downing Street flat emerged last night.
An official report has revealed that the highly unusual funding arrangements for the No 11 refurbishment had to be hastily unravelled after the Mail broke the story.
Originally, the Cabinet Office paid for the £58,000 revamp last July, then millionaire Tory peer Lord Brownlow was secretly asked to cover the cost before the Prime Minister settled the bill himself. But Cabinet Office accounts published yesterday show that in March this year, just after this newspaper exposed the ‘Wallpapergate’ scandal, the entire money chain was reversed.
First, eco-friendly interior designer Lulu Lytle paid her fees back to the Cabinet Office, which then passed the money back to the Conservative Party, and finally Mr Johnson repaid her directly.
‘Additional invoices for the refurbishment work undertaken on the No 11 Downing Street residence were received and paid for by the Cabinet Office and subsequently recharged to the Conservative Party in July 2020,’ the report says.
An official report has revealed that the highly unusual funding arrangements for the No 11 refurbishment had to be hastily unravelled after the Mail broke the story
‘In March 2021, the supplier refunded the Cabinet Office, and the Cabinet Office refunded the Conservative Party, with all final costs of wider refurbishment met by the Prime Minister personally.’
Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said the chain of repayments showed ‘the Cabinet Office really got the Prime Minister out of a hole’.
‘It is a scandal that shows the Prime Minister in a very poor light, and he is going to have to accept what this has done to his reputation. The Prime Minister never came absolutely clean about who funded the flat – why couldn’t he just be straight with the public?’
After breaking the story, the Mail predicted this complex chain of repayments would be carried out as a way of glossing over the way the redecoration was funded.
But it was not mentioned in the report into the saga by ethics watchdog Lord Geidt in May, which concluded that the PM had acted ‘unwisely’ but had not breached the ministerial code over the refurbishment.
The new report also reveals that Mr Johnson spent almost the maximum amount of taxpayers’ money allowed on his living quarters last year – mainly on painting and sanding floorboards.
First, eco-friendly interior designer Lulu Lytle (pictured) paid her fees back to the Cabinet Office, which then passed the money back to the Conservative Party, and finally Mr Johnson repaid her directly
‘The Cabinet Office has a £30,000 budget each year for the upkeep of the dwellings within No 11 Downing Street. During 2020-21, Cabinet Office spent £28,647 with Mitie Facilities Management Ltd at the request of the Prime Minister, which included painting and sanding of floorboards,’ the accounts stated.
In early March, this newspaper told how plans had been secretly hatched to set up a charitable trust to pay for the upkeep of Downing Street.
The abandoned proposal would have helped foot the bill for the makeover, which was intended by Mr Johnson’s new wife Carrie to replace the ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’ previous PM Theresa May had turned the flat into.
In early March, this newspaper told how plans had been secretly hatched to set up a charitable trust to pay for the upkeep of Downing Street
Former No 10 aide Dominic Cummings claims he told Mr Johnson that his plan to have ‘donors secretly pay for the renovation’ were ‘unethical, foolish (and) possibly illegal’.
Details of the funding emerged in a footnote on page 209 of the 282-page Cabinet Office annual report and accounts.
The Electoral Commission watchdog is still investigating if any donations to the Conservative Party were properly declared.
No 10 said last night: ‘Other than works funded through the annual allowance, the costs of the wider refurbishment of the flat have been met by the PM personally.’