12
Wednesday
May 2021
7:58 PM IST
News Headlines
Tour of Sri Lanka: Two-way fight for India captaincy between Hardik and Shikhar        India projected to grow at 10.1% in 2022 but outlook for 2021 highly fragile: UN        Rockets kill 2 Israelis; 28 die in Gaza as Israel hits Hamas        Delhi reports 12,481 Covid cases, 347 deaths        Kerala woman killed in Palestinian rocket strike in Israel        Kerala''s ''Iron Lady'' K R Gowri Amma no more        Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma get first dose of vaccination        Sensex surges over 350 pts in early trade; Nifty tops 14,900        Israeli police, Palestinians clash at Jerusalem holy site        Had govt done its job, it would not have come to this: Rahul on foreign aid        Himanta Biswa Sarma sworn-in as 15th Chief Minister of Assam        Obesity and Bariatric Surgery        COVID-19 pandemic: Centre releases Rs 8923.8 cr to Panchayats in 25 states        BJP announces Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma as Assam Chief Minister        Debris from China''s disintegrating rocket falls into Indian Ocean        Kerala poet''s FB account ''suspended'' for posting satire clip on BJP poll defeat        TV journalist Vipin Chandh dies of COVID-19        Kerala adds 35,801 new COVID-19 cases, 68 more deaths        US Navy seizes weapons in Arabian Sea likely bound for Yemen        EU doesn''t renew order for AstraZeneca vaccine        
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International News
UK elections watchdog to probe Boris Johnson Downing Street flat refit
 
London: The UK''s Electoral Commission on Wednesday launched a formal investigation into the funding of Prime Minister Boris Johnson''s Downing Street flat refurbishments, which have been at the centre of a row over whether donations to the ruling Conservative Party were involved in it. The elections watchdog, which has been in contact with the Tory party since last month, said it felt there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect that an offence may have occurred in relation to the apartment used by the Prime Minister above No. 11 Downing Street. “We have been in contact with the Conservative Party since late March and have conducted an assessment of the information they have provided to us.

We are now satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred,” an Electoral Commission spokesperson said. “We will therefore continue this work as a formal investigation to establish whether this is the case. The investigation will determine whether any transactions relating to the works at 11 Downing Street fall within the regime regulated by the Commission and whether such funding was reported as required,” the spokesperson said. The watchdog said it would not comment any further on the probe and will provide an update only once the investigation is complete. Under its remit, the Electoral Commission looks at evidence in a process known as an "assessment".

If the assessment finds evidence that gives reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or contravention under the Political Parties at Elections and Referendums Act (2000) has occurred, and it is proportionate and appropriate to do so, it then opens an investigation. In a heated clash at the weekly Prime Minister''s Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson was vehement that there had been no impropriety. “I have covered the costs, I have met the requirements that have been advised to me in full. Any further declaration I have to make, if any, I will be advised upon,” he said. But Opposition Leader Keir Starmer labelled him “Major Sleaze” as he claimed the ruling Conservatives had been found to be handing out “dodgy contracts”, “jobs for their mates” and “cash for access”.

The Electoral Commission move this week follows weeks of controversy and “sleaze” allegations by the Opposition Labour Party, escalated further by former Downing Street top aide Dominic Cummings claiming in a blog that the UK PM had planned for party donors to "secretly pay" for the works at the flat he shares with fiancée Carrie Symonds and their baby boy Wilfred. “The PM stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended,” Cummings writes in his now infamous blog post from last week. “I refused to help him organise these payments. My knowledge about them is therefore limited.

I would be happy to tell the Cabinet Secretary or Electoral Commission what I know concerning this matter,” said Johnson''s former close ally as his Chief Strategy Adviser. It led to Labour demanding a full investigation into the allegations that Johnson borrowed from party funds for the refurbishment. Like Prime Ministers over the years, Johnson occupies the flat above No. 11 Downing Street and each new incumbent is allocated a budget to refurbish the place to their taste. Johnson and his fiancée are said to have decided to opt for a grander makeover worth around 58,000, pounds which was allegedly sought to be funded through donations before being repaid. In a statement released to Parliament last week, the Cabinet Office said that the UK PM had “personally met” all the costs of the redecoration.

In its response to the allegations, Downing Street has said: "At all times, the government and ministers have acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law. Cabinet Office officials have been engaged and informed throughout and official advice has been followed. "All reportable donations are transparently declared and published - either by the Electoral Commission or the House of Commons registrar, in line with the requirements set out in electoral law. Gifts and benefits received in a ministerial capacity are, and will continue to be, declared in transparency returns." While it is not against the rules to receive donations, politicians are required to declare them under public transparency requirements.


Rockets kill 2 Israelis; 28 die in Gaza as Israel hits Hamas
Israeli police, Palestinians clash at Jerusalem holy site
Debris from China''s disintegrating rocket falls into Indian Ocean
US Navy seizes weapons in Arabian Sea likely bound for Yemen
EU doesn''t renew order for AstraZeneca vaccine
In tense Jerusalem, flag-waving Israeli march to go ahead
Nepal PM Oli to seek vote of confidence in Parliament on Monday
WHO China chief says approval for 1st Chinese vaccine a ''milestone achievement''
Disintegrated space rocket ''highly unlikely'' to cause any damage on earth: China
Russia has registered Sputnik Light, the single-dose vaccine against COVID-19
Brunei marks 1 year without COVID-19 local transmission
China silent on falling debris of its space rocket amid rising concerns
Netanyahu again fails to form new Israeli government
Nepal''s Oli govt loses majority support after Maoist party withdraws support
Facebook board upholds Trump suspension
Twenty-five killed in boat accident in Bangladesh
Nepal to suspend international and domestic flights to contain spread of coronavirus
44 killed in stampede at Jewish religious festival in Israel
Lawyer representing Navalny''s foundation detained in Moscow
Chinese mainland reports 13 fresh nCoV cases
ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
George Clooney says Capitol attack put Trump family 'into the dustbin of history'
 Los Angeles: Hollywood star George Clooney has condemned the attack on the Capitol Hill in the US by  
'Mean Girls' won't be returning to Broadway
Ian McKellan is 'happy' Elliot Page came out as transgender
A R Rahman thanks fans for support during 'difficult times'
KERALA NEWS
Kerala woman killed in Palestinian rocket strike in Israel
 Idukki: A Keralite woman working in Israel was killed allegedly in a Palestinian rocket strike on Tu
Kerala poet''s FB account ''suspended'' for posting satire clip on BJP poll defeat
TV journalist Vipin Chandh dies of COVID-19
Kerala adds 35,801 new COVID-19 cases, 68 more deaths
NATIONAL NEWS
Delhi reports 12,481 Covid cases, 347 deaths
 New Delhi: The national capital continues to register a dip in daily COVID-19 cases, as the city rec
Had govt done its job, it would not have come to this: Rahul on foreign aid
BJP announces Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma as Assam Chief Minister
Mumbai civic body is suppressing COVID-19 death toll: Fadnavis
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