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All The Key Lines In Lord Geidt's Stern Exchange With Boris Johnson Over Missing Texts

All The Key Lines In Lord Geidt's Stern Exchange With Boris Johnson Over Missing Texts
3 min read

The Prime Minister has apologised after failing to disclose messages related to the Downing Street flat refurbishment.

Lord Geidt, the Prime Minister's standards adviser, had relaunched his investigation into the Downing Street flat refurbishment after a separate investigation by the Electoral Commission uncovered additional messages.

The new probe found messages which showed Johnson directly contacting Tory donor, Lord Brownlow, who was involved in funding the refurbishment.

Lord Geidt has reportedly considered resigning from his post following the revelation, after it was suggested the PM had intentionally failed to provide the messages during the original inquiry.

The Conservative Party still face a £17,800 fine from the Electoral Commission for failing to accurately record the donations and keep a proper accounting record.

But in a series of new letters published on Thursday:

  • Johnson claimed he had failed to disclose the messages because he had changed his mobile number after it was made public, resulting in a series of WhatsApp messages being lost from his old device.
  • Geidt upheld his original conclusion that the funding of the refurbishment did not breach the ministerial code.
  • The original report would have been written differenly if the new messages had been made available. It had concluded Johnson acted "unwisely" in his handling of the case. 
  • Geidt said it was of "grave concern" that the PM and his staff had failed to take the "greatest possible care" in ensuring he had full access to all relevant information from the inquiry. He said it was "plainly unsatisfactory" he was forced to investigate the issue without the full facts.
  • His letter to the PM also cast doubt on claims that Johnson had no recollection of chats with Lord Brownlow, adding that it was "unsatisfactory" that this had not been checked "more thoroughly" by the Cabinet Office given the new messages proved this was incorrect. He also criticised the Cabinet Office for their "extraordinary" decision to refuse information offered to them by Brownlow to aid the Electoral Commission inquiry.
  • Those text messages, which Johnson later claimed he could not recall, show the PM describing the flat to Brownlow as a "bit of a tip" and that he was keen for the funding to be sorted so that designer, Lulu Lytle, could "get on with it". In response Brownlow told the PM to ask Lytle to get in touch with him directly.
  • Geidt also criticised the "insufficient regard" for the position of Independent Adviser given that Downing Street staff reportedly became aware of the missing messages but did not inform him, meaning he only became aware once the Electoral Commission report was published.
  • Johnson offered a "humble and sincere apology" for the handling of the inquiry, saying it was "unacceptable" that the Cabinet Office had not kept Geidt up-to-date with their responses to the Electoral Commission investigation.
  • The Prime Minister also said that additional support would be provided to the Independent Adviser from the Cabinet Office in response to the criticisms, and extend access to information to help ensure "prompt, full answers".
  • Geidt appeared to commit to remaining in the post and working to enhance the processes, but said the situation "shook my confidence precisely because potential and real failures of process occurred in more than one part of the apparatus of government".

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