News 9 December 2021

Conservative Party Fined £17,800 Over Downing Street Flat Refurbishment

9 December 2021

The Conservative Party have been fined £17,800 for “failing to accurately report a donation” made towards Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat refurbishment.

The fine was handed by the Electoral Commission whose investigation into the handling and recording of the donation towards the 11 Downing Street refurb found “serious failings in the party’s compliance systems”.

The Electoral Commission – the watchdog for party funding – found the party failed to “fully report” the full value of a donation of £67,801.72 in October 2020 from Huntswood Associates Limited – a firm controlled by the Tory donor Lord Brownlow.

That sum included £52,801.72 for revamping the flat but the Tory party only declared £15,000 which went towards covering an event.

The party claimed the near £53k was “not a donation to the party” and was in fact “a donation to the Prime Minister via the party”. However, the investigation concluded it “was a donation and should have been reported to the commission”.

The commission said the fine for failing to accurately report the full value of the donation is £16,250 and for contravening the requirement to keep proper accounting records the party has been fined £1,550.

Director of Regulation at the Electoral Commission Louise Edwards said: “Our investigation into the Conservative Party found that the laws around the reporting and recording of donations were not followed.

“We know that voters have concerns about the transparency of funding of political parties. Reporting requirements are in place so that the public can see where money is coming from, inaccurate reporting risks undermining trust in the system.

“The party’s decisions and actions reflected serious failings in its compliance systems. As a large and well-resourced political party that employs compliance and finance experts, and that has substantial sums of money going through its accounts, the Conservative Party should have sufficiently robust systems in place to meet its legal reporting requirements.”

[Image by Alex Segre via Shutterstock]