THE SNP have said Boris Johnson "simply cannot be allowed to remain as Prime Minister" after new evidence has suggested he "lied" about knowing who funded his lavish flat refurbishment.

Johnson is accused of misleading an investigation into the donation funding a revamp of his Downing Street flat after a watchdog fined the Tories £17,800.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner accused the Prime Minister of having “lied” to his standards adviser by saying he did not know who was behind the payment but No 10 insisted Johnson had been honest and followed the rules “at all times”.

The Electoral Commission issued the fine on Thursday after ruling that the Conservative Party had not followed the law over donations by Lord Brownlow to help cover the renovations, with costs exceeding £112,500.

The watchdog said the Tories had failed to “accurately report a donation and keep a proper accounting record” of the money handed over by the Tory peer in October 2020.

READ MORE: Tories fined £17,800 over Boris Johnson's Downing Street flat redecoration

Its report raised further questions because it discussed evidence showing Johnson had sent the peer a WhatsApp message in November 2020 “asking him to authorise further, at that stage unspecified, refurbishment works on the residence”, to which he agreed.

Downing Street insisted Johnson had not lied to ministerial standards adviser Lord Geidt despite telling him he had no knowledge of the payments until immediately prior to media reports in February.

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "The truth and Boris Johnson are strangers.

"He simply cannot be allowed to remain as Prime Minister. He either resigns or he needs to be removed."

Blackford added: “Once again Boris Johnson and the Tory party are at the core of sleaze and corruption after failing to report a £67k donation for the lavish refurbishment of No.10.

“It is right that they have been fined. However, people will rightly feel that £17k does not go far enough. While people across the UK have been turning to food banks and struggling to get by because the Tory government has failed to bring in or increase vital support, the Prime Minister, who earns an annual salary of £150,000, is using dodgy donations to his party to splurge on new curtains. And all he gets is a slap on the wrist.

“Not only did he breach electoral law – he lied about it too. In May he told Lord Geidt that he did not know who was behind plans to refurbish the flat until Feb 2021 – but the Electoral Commission has said Boris Johnson contacted Lord Brownlow in November 2020 asking for more cash for the refurbishment. Boris Johnson lies as easily as he breathes.

The National: Boris Johnson was scrutinised at Prime Minister’s Questions over the refurb costsBoris Johnson was scrutinised at Prime Minister’s Questions over the refurb costs

“Since taking office, Boris Johnson has lurched from one scandal to another. He has repeatedly lied, acted unlawfully, undermined the ministerial code, handed peerages to Tory donors, let rule-breaking Tory MPs off the hook, and solicited dodgy donations for his own luxury holidays and home refurbishments."

Rayner said: “It is right that the Electoral Commission has fined the Conservative Party but the Prime Minister must now explain why he lied to the British public saying he didn’t know who was behind No 11 flat refurb – all the while he was WhatsApping the donor asking for more money.

“Boris Johnson has taken the British public for fools. He’s not only broken the law but made a mockery of the standards we expect from our prime ministers.”

The deputy Labour called for a fresh investigation from Lord Geidt and for Parliamentary Standards Commission Kathryn Stone to investigate Mr Johnson, saying he was “in flagrant breach” of both the MPs’ code of conduct and the Ministerial Code.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman denied Johnson had lied and insisted he has “acted in accordance with the rules at all times” and has “made all necessary declarations”.

Downing Street’s defence amounted to Johnson not knowing that Lord Brownlow was providing the money to the “blind trust” he was organising.

The National: Carrie Symonds, Mr Johnson’s fiancee, has reportedly been the driving force behind the flat upgradesCarrie Symonds, Mr Johnson’s fiancee, has reportedly been the driving force behind the flat upgrades

“Lord Brownlow was the chair of a blind trust and acted in accordance with his experience of managing blind trusts in that way, the Prime Minister’s discussions with Lord Brownlow were done without him knowing the underlying donor of that donation,” the official spokesperson said.

Amid suggestions Lord Geidt could resign if he was misled, the spokesperson said he remained in post and that Johnson had full confidence in him, but he could not say whether Lord Geidt had been shown the WhatsApp exchanges.

In his report from May, Lord Geidt said that despite “some limited” contact during the period in question the “record shows no evidence that the Prime Minister had been informed by Lord Brownlow that he had personally settled the total costs”.

For the “credibility of this inquiry”, Lord Geidt said he tested the assertions that Johnson did not know “either the fact or the method of the costs of refurbishing the apartment having been paid”.

The National: The Electoral Commission has fined the Conservative Party over the donation to help cover the lavish Downing Street renovationsThe Electoral Commission has fined the Conservative Party over the donation to help cover the lavish Downing Street renovations

He said the individuals involved “confirmed to me that these assertions are correct”, adding: “I have also spoken in similar terms to the Prime Minister who confirms that he knew nothing about such payments until immediately prior to media reports in February 2021.”

But the Electoral Commission said that on November 29 last year Johnson sent a WhatsApp message to Lord Brownlow “asking him to authorise further, at that stage unspecified, refurbishment works on the residence”.

“Lord Brownlow agreed to do so, and also explained that the proposed trust had not yet been set up but that he knew where the funding was coming from,” the report added.

The refurbishments to the flat above No 11 sparked sustained scrutiny of Johnson’s finances, with the works vastly exceeding the £30,000 annual limit afforded to the Prime Minister.

In fining the Tories, the Electoral Commission said the party had repeatedly said the money had not been a donation but had been described as “a donation to the Prime Minister via the party”, a “ministerial matter”, the repayment of a loan, and at one stage a “gift to the nation”.

Its investigation – which took in more than 2,400 pages of evidence – found that the party failed to fully report a donation of £67,801.72 from Huntswood Associates Limited in October 2020, including £52,801.72 connected to the costs of refurbishment.

The commission said Huntswood Associates – whose director is Lord Brownlow – transferred £67,801.72 to the Conservative Party on October 19, 2020.

Some £15,000 of that amount was for an event, but the commission said he “specifically identified the remaining £52,801.72 as a donation to cover an earlier payment of that value made by the party to the Cabinet Office”.

The Cabinet Office had paid three invoices over summer 2020, totalling the same amount, for the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s flat, and these payments were made on the agreement that the sum would be repaid by the party.

But after the fallout Johnson agreed to pay the full amount himself, leading to the Cabinet Office being refunded by the supplier – Soane Britain, which is owned by interior designer Lulu Lytle – in March 2021 and then subsequently refunding the Conservative Party.

But the commission said that in donation records submitted on January 27, 2021, while the party reported the £15,000 from Huntswood Associates, it failed to report the £52,801.72.

The commission also concluded that the reference in the party’s financial records to the payment of £52,801.72 made by the party for the refurbishment was not accurate as it was referred to as a “blind trust loan”.

Its report revealed an additional £59,747.40 was paid to the supplier by Huntswood Associates, bringing the total to £112,549.12.

Lord Geidt’s investigation detailed how the work – which began in April 2020 while the Prime Minister was in hospital with coronavirus – was meant to be funded by a Downing Street trust chaired by Lord Brownlow.

But this never happened, and therefore the commission said it was wrong to record the donation in this way.

At the time, Lord Geidt said: “The Prime Minister – unwisely, in my view – allowed the refurbishment of the apartment at No 11 Downing Street to proceed without more rigorous regard for how this would be funded”.

On Thursday, Louise Edwards, the director of regulation at the Electoral Commission, said: “Our investigation into the Conservative Party found that the laws around the reporting and recording of donations were not followed.

“The party’s decisions and actions reflected serious failings in its compliance systems.”

The Tories said they were considering whether to appeal against the fine, with a spokesman saying: “We are considering whether to appeal this decision and will make a decision within 28 working days."