Boris Johnson's aides are warned they face JAIL if they delete texts or emails about his Downing St flat renovation
BORIS Johnson’s aides have been warned they face jail if they delete texts or emails about the “cash for curtains” row – and have a week to turn over their phones.
A stark email sent to Conservative Party staff states: "You are put on notice that this is a criminal investigation.”
The Electoral Commission announced it was launching an official probe this week following accusations the PM did not foot the upfront cost of the rumoured £200,000 refit of the Downing Street flat.
The warning shot to staff reads: "If you knowingly falsify, conceal, destroy or otherwise dispose of information… you could be committing a criminal offence of Perverting the Course of Justice."
The Electoral Commission is investigating the party over an alleged breach of funding rules relating to the revamp of the No11 flat the PM shares with his fiancée Carrie Symonds.
Mr Johnson insists he has personally paid for the lavish refurb and rubbished claims of wrongdoing as a “farrago of nonsense”.
But he has not denied reports that the bill was initially covered by a party or private donation, which under strict rules must be declared.
All Tory staffers have now been given a week to trawl their devices for any messages or emails concerning the refit.
An legal warning email sent to employees at Conservative Campaign Headquarters yesterday said: “By Friday 7 May, you are required to produce un-redacted copies of all communications…which concern any arrangements and/or agreements made for the settlement of costs arising from the refurbishment works at the 11 Downing Street flat beyond those met by the Cabinet office from public funds”.
The ultimatum issued by legal officer Alan Mabbutt added: “You are put on notice that this is a criminal investigation.”
The watchdog announced it was launching an official probe this week following accusations the PM did not foot the upfront cost.
Prime ministers have a £30,000 annual budget to do up the Downing Street flat, but the decor redesign in No11 reportedly spiralled to six figures.
Mr Johnson and ministers have swatted away questions of who initially paid for the renovation.
During a fiery exchange with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer this week, the PM would not be drawn on whether the Conservative Party or Tory peer Lord Brownlow of Sherlock Row stumped up the original funding.
He said: “I have covered the costs… I conformed in full with the code of conduct and officials have kept advising me through this whole thing."
The watchdog, which has sweeping powers to impose fines or refer cases to the police, said there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.
Separate probes into the renovation row are also being carried out by top civil servant Simon Case and No10’s new No10 standards adviser Lord Geidt.
The PM has also been reported to the Commons authorities.
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