Boris Johnson is reported to be on the verge of escaping further investigation into the renovation of his Downing Street apartment.
Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Catherine Stone, who oversees the Code of Conduct and rules for Members of Parliament, is said to have decided not to open another investigation into the controversy after two previous investigations by the Election Commission and Christopher Giddt, an independent minister’s interests adviser.
No 10 was informed of its decision this week, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
Senior Conservatives had feared that Ms Stone’s inquiry could result in the Prime Minister being suspended from the House of Commons if he were found guilty of breaching the Parliamentary Code of Conduct.
Mr Johnson this week faced fresh allegations of corruption after the publication of WhatsApp messages that appeared to show him expressing support for a proposed Tory donor who funded the renovation of his luxury apartment.
He was also heavily criticized by Lord Gedett for failing to disclose letters to his investigation, an omission which the ethics advisor described as “extraordinary”.
The prime minister’s aides are said to have insisted that the renewal, whose funding had been approved by Tory donor Lord Brownlow, was not a matter of Stone as it was not related to his role as minister.
But Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed said Labor had urged Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Catherine Stone to investigate the WhatsApp messages, noting that there were questions about the possibility of “cash access” until the prime minister answered.
Mr Read said the text messages were “very important” because they showed Lord Brownlow “apparently had access to the Prime Minister because he was paying for the apartment renovations” in Downing Street.
Talk to BBC Radio 4 today The programme, he said, “If that’s the case, it’s corruption.
“And what we’re seeing here is a case of, potentially, getting access money where Lord Brownlow has been given access to ministers to try to influence them on decisions to spend taxpayer money – which is why this is so important.
“These very comforting text messages show that there is a trade-off in place between the Prime Minister and Lord Brownlow, and we need to get to the bottom line on this.”
Lord Gedett has also faced calls to reopen his investigation, with Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner saying his decision to close the case “raises a number of serious concerns and questions”.
The ethics advisor’s investigation concluded that Mr Johnson had not violated ministerial law, but criticized the prime minister for failing to “compile all relevant material” to his investigation.
The prime minister blamed a new mobile phone number for the error and had to offer an apology.