Boris Johnson’s new standards adviser has vowed to publish any donations received by the Prime Minister towards the lavish revamp of his Downing Street flat within weeks.
Lord Geidt, a former private secretary to the Queen, said he was “determined” to publish the overdue list of ministerial interests by the end of May, which will include his advice on the Prime Minister’s declarations over the flat refurbishment.
The peer said he would also publish his report into the “facts of the circumstances” around the PM’s luxury makeover of his No11 residence.
The refurbishment triggered a major sleaze row after reports claimed a Tory donor had initially paid £58,000 towards the works.
Mr Johnson insists he met the costs himself – which are reported to have run to £200,000 – but he has repeatedly evaded questions over whether he initially took an initial loan to pay his decorating bill.
The Electoral Commission has launched a formal probe after saying there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.
Any loans or donations of more than £7,500 must be declared under electoral law.
No updates to the register of ministers’ interests have been published since July 2020.
It should have been updated in December but the delay was blamed on the lack of an independent adviser on ministerial standards.
The post had been vacant since Sir Alex Allan resigned in November after Mr Johnson stood by Home Secretary Priti Patel – despite Sir Alex’s inquiry finding her conduct “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying”.
Lord Geidt, the new independent adviser on ministers’ interests, said it was “unfortunate” that the list that had not been published so far.
He told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: “I’m determined that it should be published by the end of this month.
“Public confidence, I think in my judgment, demands that this list be published without further delay.
“The publication of the list of interests will include the Prime Minister.”
Lord Geidt went on: “I have been asked to make an inquiry on the facts of the circumstances of the refurbishment of the flat at Downing Street and to advise the Prime Minister on his declaration of interests so that by the time we get to the end of the month we will have that declaration and alongside that I will report, and I will do so in a timely fashion, in other words simultaneously, a report into the necessary context to the declaration of ministers’ interests.”
Downing Street said the timetable and publication of the findings was a matter for Lord Geidt.
Asked if Mr Johnson would comply with the advice, the PM’s official spokesman said: “What’s important is that Lord Geidt goes ahead and sets out his position initially. I don’t want to get ahead of that process.
“The Prime Minister has always made it clear he abides by the codes of conduct and will continue to do so.”
Lord Geidt faced questions from MPs over whether he can properly hold Mr Johnson to account as the Prime Minister is the ultimate arbiter of the ministerial code.
Asked if he would resign if the PM ignored his advice, Lord Geidt said ”I hope that it wouldn’t come to that,” but he added “the power is there, if you’d like, as a last resort”.