The full extent of the notorious wallpapergate scandal seen by some as heralding the start of Boris Johnson’s downfall has been laid bare.
The Independent has obtained a leaked copy of the invoice for the renovation of the Prime Minister’s Downing Street flat which shows it cost more than £200,000.
Items ordered by Mr Johnson and wife Carrie from upmarket interior designer Lulu Lytle include a £3,675 drinks trolley said to be like the one owned in Paris by ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev and £2,260 worth of the ‘gold’ wallpaper that Mr Johnson privately complained his wife had purchased.
Two sofas cost more than £15,000; £3,000 was spent on a ‘paint effect’ for the flat hallway; the cheapest item is a £500 kitchen table cloth.
The estimate for building works, which involved sanding the floorboards, painting and decorating, and installing new furnishings and fittings came to £30,000.
The leak from the Cabinet Office will reopen the long running controversy over the Johnsons’ luxury refurbishment of their official flat over 11 Downing Street.
The £208,104 estimate was sent in early 2020 to the Cabinet Office, which has a £30,000 annual budget to renovate the PM’s official Downing St flat, in the early stages of the work.
In fact the rest of the cost was secretly funded by Lord Brownlow and the Tory Party until the scandal was uncovered when Mr Johnson was told to pay it from his own funds.
The leaked bill shows that the Johnsons ordered a £3,675 ‘Nureyev Trolley’ said to be “inspired by a French 1940s drinks trolley owned by ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev”.
The leaked invoice in full:
They spent £15,120 on two sofas (with another £2,880 for fabric to upholster them); £11,280 on eight dining chairs; £7,000 on a rug; £4,200 on a ‘double wingback chair’; £3,800 on an antique mirror for the hall and £1,000 for a kitchen TV table.
The leaked bill sent by Ms Lytle’s Soane Britain company appears to suggest the Johnsons ordered a drawing room lamp for £6,000 with an extra £2,500 for the lamp shade.
Despite being known as wallpapergate, in fact the fabrics cost far more than the wall hangings.
Of the wallpaper bill, the single most expensive item was £2,260 for ten rolls of ‘Espalier Square design’ used in the entrance hall.
According to the Soane Britain website Ms Lytle “imagines this gives the all encompassing effect of fruit trees to form tunnels and pergolas in a 19th century kitchen garden”.
Although described as “emerald and stone linen” in color the ‘Espalier’ wallpaper can appear to be gold in a certain light and is said to have inspired Mr Johnson’s frustrated remark that his wife was “spending thousands on gold wallpaper”.
The bill for upholstery and curtains came to £21,280, including £3,200 for ’32 meters of sorolla red scrolling fern’ for dining room curtains.
Mr Johnson was the forced to apologize in January for failing to advise his former Whitehall ethicsr Lord Geidt messages between himself and Lord Brownlow, who contributed more than £50,000 towards the flat makeover.
In his report into the flat refurbishment in May 2021, Lord Geidt said Johnson told him he did not know Lord Brownlow paid the money before media reports earlier that year.
However, a separate inquiry by the Electoral Commission watchdog found out that Mr Johnson had in fact messaged Lord Brownlow over WhatsApp about the revamp in November 2020.
Lord Geidt, who resigned from his post last month, rebuked the Prime Minister for failing to disclose the texts – but did not change his initial verdict that Mr Johnson did not break the ministerial code.
In 2021 it emerged that the cost of the refurbishment was met by the Cabinet Office and recharged to the Conservative Party. After the scandal was revealed the money was returned to Tory HQ and Mr Johnson agreed to pick up the bill, though it is not clear where he obtained the necessary £178,000 once the Cabinet Office paid its £30,000 share.
Mr Johnson, Mrs Johnson and Ms Lyttle declined to comment.