The UK Electoral Commission said in a statement on Wednesday that “there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a crime or crime has occurred. We will therefore continue this work as a formal investigation to establish the case or No.”
The British leader faced further scrutiny following allegations of unethical behavior by his former key aide last week.
Dominic Cummings, who left his role as Johnson’s former chief adviser at the end of last year, after gaining a reputation as the driving force behind the prime minister’s Brexit policy and re-election, alleged in a blog post that Johnson plans to pay for the donors of the Conservative Party upgrade.
If that was the case, there would have been a need to give a loan to the Election Commission. Political donations and debt are tightly controlled in the United Kingdom, with loans of more than £ 7,500 ($ 10,400) and publicly disclosed by commissions four times a year.
The commission has the authority to issue sanctions – including substantial fines – if a rule is found to have been violated. It may also refer prosecutors to any apparent violation of criminal law. If the Commission finds that the Prime Minister or the Conservative Party, or possibly both, failed to announce a loan or donation it could face a fine of up to £ 20,0000.
The commission said in its Wednesday statement that “the investigation will determine whether any transactions related to the works at 11 Downing Street are within the regime regulated by the commission and whether such funds were reported.”
The question of who initially paid for the apartment upgrade had been dominating the British media for a long time, and news that a formal investigation had been launched could cause trouble for Johnson.
Easy for the opposition, the bombing of the commission was announced to begin in Parliament just before the commencement of the weekly Prime Minister’s Question Session, giving opposition leader Keir Starr ample amounts of ammo for the debate.
Starr jumps on the spot, challenging Johnson repeatedly on this issue, Asking the Prime Minister whether he had initially paid the bill and whether he believed any rules or laws were broken in the process.
Johnson responded, many times, that he himself paid for the work, but did not address the issue of whether he did so “initially.”
The Prime Minister appeared shocked and at times angry, in return and accused the leader of the Labor Party of playing the political game at a time when the country was dealing with the effects of the Kovid-19 epidemic. He suggested that “most people would find it absolutely bizarre” that focused on the starrer issue.
Johnson said, “I have half an hour every week to put serious and sensible questions … and that back and forth … about the wallpaper, as I told them so far umpteen times, I Paid for. “
Starr spoke back on the charge, in which Johnson said in October that he would “pile up the body in the thousands” compared to another pandemic lockdown. The opposition leader asked the Prime Minister directly whether “he made those comments or to that effect.”
A No. 10 spokesperson told CNN earlier in the week that the government had “meticulously met the historic spending” and said that “any cost of extensive renovation … has come in person from the Prime Minister.” CNN reached the PM office for comment on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister and his colleagues strongly defended his behavior and strongly denied the allegations. Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gov, a high-profile British journalist and senior government minister, told the BBC’s major news radio show on Wednesday that “the prime minister cannot be expected to be in a skip”.
Local elections in the United Kingdom next week will be seen as a test of how this scandal resonates with the public.
CNN’s Rob Picheta, Matt Wells and Luke McGee contributed reporting.