Hill review: London takes aim at Amsterdam with new listing rules

Major changes should be made to London’s listings regime to encourage firms to choose the UK over rivals in the US and Europe, a new report says.

Company founders could maintain control over their firms after listing them on a London exchange under its proposals.

The new rules aim to close “a gap”, which has opened up between the UK and other trading centres post-Brexit and attract more firms to list in London.

Amsterdam overtook London as Europe’s top share trading hub in January.

Under the recommendations of the review led by Lord Hill (a former EU commissioner), companies should be allowed to sell so-called “dual-class” shares in the premium listing segment of the London Stock Exchange.

The move would allow company founders to keep control over their companies by giving them deciding votes on big decisions such as mergers and takeovers.

The report also recommended reducing the proportion of a company’s shares that must be publicly traded from 25% to 15%, and that the chancellor should report to Parliament on the state of the City of London every year.

Lord Hill said the proposals were designed to encourage investment in UK businesses, benefit companies who choose to float in London and improve the UK’s competitive position”.

“The recommendations in this report are not about opening a gap between us and other global centres by proposing radical new departures to try to seize a competitive advantage,” he said.

“They are about closing a gap which has already opened up. All the recommendations are consistent with existing practices in other well-regulated financial centres in the USA, Asia and Europe.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak welcomed the publication of Lord Hill’s review ahead of Wednesday’s Budget.

“We asked Lord Hill to lead this review because we wanted bold ideas. The UK is one of the best places in the world to start, grow and list a business – and we’re determined to enhance this reputation now we’ve left the EU.

“That means boosting the UK’s business environment and making sure we continue to lead the world in providing open, dynamic capital markets for existing and innovative companies alike, whilst protecting the high standards that underpin our status as a world-leading financial centre.”

The UK is currently trying to carve out a role for the City of London after Brexit.

Financial services – a key driver of the UK economy – were largely omitted from the last-minute Brexit trade deal agreed in December.

The City generates about £135bn in business annually, with financial institutions earning big fees from trading stocks and shares.

But in January, Amsterdam overtook London as the biggest share trading centre in Europe, while shares traded through the UK dropped significantly after the end of the Brexit transition period.

About €9.2bn (£8.1bn) worth of shares were traded on Amsterdam exchanges each day, against €8.6bn in London.

Following new Brexit rules, EU-based banks wanting to buy European shares currently cannot trade via London, meaning a loss of fees for City firms.

Wales farming pollution rules row set for Senedd vote

A long-running row over plans to tackle agricultural pollution in Wales is set to culminate in the Senedd later.

Opposition parties will try to scrap strict new rules the Welsh Government hopes to bring in from April.

Farmers expressed “fury” at the move to limit slurry and fertiliser on farmland across Wales and unions say it could cost the industry £360m to implement.

But the fishing community and environment groups say it’s vital the plans go ahead.

The Welsh Government says it has to act as there are on average three agricultural pollution incidents a week that kill fish and other wildlife, as well as threatening public health.

The changes – to be phased in over three and a half years – would have a particular impact on dairy farms.

It would result in them facing new risk assessments and a requirement to have at least five months’ worth of slurry storage.

There would also be a three-month ban on slurry-spreading each year, from late autumn, to avoid run-off during the wettest months.

Farmers claim however, it could make the situation worse, forcing them all to be out emptying their stores in the weeks just before and after the restrictions come in.

The new regulations have also been described as “the wrong answer to the right question” by Plaid Cymru’s environment spokesperson Llyr Gruffydd MS, who is behind the motion to annul them.

A blanket policy for the whole of Wales is “disproportionate”, and risks “adverse environmental, economic and social impacts” he said.

It also goes much further than the advice ministers received from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which had suggested that about 8% of the country be placed under tougher restrictions.

“Nobody’s saying we shouldn’t take action, nobody’s saying stand idly by – we absolutely need to get to grips with these issues,” Mr Gruffydd explained.

“But we need measures that are targeted, based on those areas that have been identified in Wales as having a problem with agricultural pollution.”

The latest vote follows another fiery debate on the issue, led by the Welsh Conservatives last month.

The government’s opponents have called on Liberal Democrat Education Minister Kirsty Williams and Culture Minister Dafydd Elis-Thomas, an independent – who are both stepping down at the election and represent big farming constituencies – to vote with them to scrap the plans.

Abi Reader, who chairs NFU Cymru’s dairy board, has urged Senedd members to “think about the Welsh food on their plates and our rural communities” when deciding how to vote.

She said the government’s own economic impact assessment suggested the infrastructure costs involved in implementing the new restrictions could reach £360m for the industry and some smaller businesses would have to give up farming if the plans went ahead.

The timing of the announcement has also been “really contentious”, with Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths having said previously she would not introduce the regulations during the pandemic.

“We’re still in lockdown and yet here we are,” Ms Reader said. “I have to say I’m furious and I’m probably reflecting what a lot of other people are thinking.”

The fishing community and environmentalists are just as passionate in their support for the proposals, and say an all-Wales approach is needed.

James Byrne, Living Landscapes Manager for Wildlife Trusts Wales, said agricultural pollution was causing “significant ecological damage” and hurting the country’s reputation.

“The people of Wales want clean rivers and thriving communities which includes the tourism that comes from having pristine environments,” he argued.

“NRW have told us that 66% of rivers in Wales fail to achieve good ecological status and that includes some of the most iconic like the Wye, Usk and Teifi.”

The new regulations will bring Wales into line with the situation in England, he said and “future-proof” against future incidents.

Ms Griffiths said they were being introduced because “we’re seeing far too many agricultural pollution incidents”, leaving her unable to wait any longer.

“It’s not isolated parts of Wales where we’re having difficulties – if you look at the map it’s right across [the country],” she said.

She has not seen any evidence to show farmers would quit the industry as a result of the changes, she said, and the Welsh Government has provided in excess of £45m to help make improvements.

Ms Griffiths further pledged to “do all we can to support our farmers”.

“Of course I don’t like to see any polarisation, I think it’s much better if we can work together on these things,” she added.

The majority of the feedback she had received though, was from people who “are very happy to see these regulations”.

Otter spotted catching fish in Wolverhampton canal

An otter – one of the UK’s most elusive mammals – has been spotted catching a fish in a Wolverhampton canal.

It was seen swimming near a pub in the Wyrley and Essington Canal by walker Sarinder Joshua Daroch, who was quick enough to take a picture.

Paul Wilkinson, of the Canal & River Trust, said the “wonderful” find was “a real testament to all the hard work” improving the region’s water quality.

The canal has been a local nature reserve (LNR) since 2008.

Its inhabitants now include swans, Canada geese and kingfishers.

Mr Wilkinson, a senior ecologist, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The fact that we’re even talking about otters on formerly industrial canals is incredible and a real testament to all the hard work that so many people have put into improving the water quality in the region.

“We know we have about 10 otters with territories along our canals, and its amazing that they’re now being seen in areas where they have been absent for over 60 years.”

Source: Canal & River Trust

The trust should be able to tell from its recent otter survey whether there was an established otter territory there or whether the one seen near the Nickelodeon pub, Wednesfield, was “just passing through”.

Labour city councillor Phil Bateman, who campaigned for the canal to be made a LNR, said the sighting was “stunning news”.

“It’s truly amazing to think of an otter being seen in the middle of a city that has more than 250,000 people living in it,” he said.

“I’m over the moon.”

Bunny Wailer: Reggae legend who found fame with Bob Marley dies, aged 73

One of reggae’s most important voices, Bunny Wailer, has died at the age of 73.

The musician, from Kingston, Jamaica, was a founding member of The Wailers alongside his childhood friend, Bob Marley.

Together, they achieved international fame with reggae classics like Simmer Down and Stir It Up, before Wailer left to go solo in 1974.

He went on to win three Grammys and was given Jamaica’s Order Of Merit in 2017.

His death was confirmed by manager Maxine Stowe, and Jamaica’s Culture Minister, Olivia Grange.

The cause of death is unknown, but he had been in hospital since having a stroke in July 2020.

Tributes have already poured in for the musician, with fans and fellow musicians describing him as a legend.

“Oh man, god bless Bunny Wailer,” wrote Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea. “What a true rocker and noble man. I love him.”

Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s prime minister, also paid tribute, calling his death “a great loss for Jamaica and for reggae”.

The star, whose real name was Neville O’Riley Livingston, had been the last surviving member of The Wailers, following Bob Marley’s death from cancer in 1981, and Peter Tosh’s murder during a robbery in 1987.

Born on 20 April 10, 1947, Livingston spent his earliest years in the village of Nine Miles, where he was raised by his father, Thaddeus, who ran a grocery store.

That was where he first met Marley, and the toddlers soon became firm friends, making their first music together at Stepney Primary and Junior High School.

Following the death of Marley’s father in 1955, his mother, Cedella, moved in with Livingston’s father. The boys were essentially raised as step-brothers, especially after Cedella and Thaddeus had a daughter together, Pearl.

After moving to Trenchtown in Kingston, they met Peter Tosh and formed a vocal group called The Wailing Wailers – because, Marley said: “We started out crying.”

The area was poor and afflicted by violence. Livingston later remembered building his first guitar from “a bamboo staff, the fine wires from an electric cable and a large sardine can”.

But singer Joe Higgs, aka “the Godfather of Reggae”, lived nearby and took the boys under his wing. Under his tutelage, they refined their sound, adding vocalist Junior Braithwaite and backing singers Beverly Kelso and Cherry Green before shortening their name to The Wailers.

In December 1963, the band entered Coxsone Dodd’s infamous Studio One to record Simmer Down, a song Marley had written calling for peace in the ghettos of Kingston.

Faster and harder than the music The Wailers later became known for, the song was an immediate hit, reaching number one in Jamaica. They followed it up with the original version of Duppy Conqueror, before releasing their debut album The Wailing Wailers, in 1965.

Soon after, the band went on hiatus as Marley got married and moved to the USA, and Livingston served a year in jail for marijuana possession. But they still managed to release 28 singles between 1966 and 1970, before releasing their second album, Soul Rebels.

Their international breakthrough came three years later with Catch A Fire – the first record they made for Chris Blackwell’s Island Records.

The collaboration came about almost by accident. The Wailers had been touring the UK with Johnny Nash – who’d had a hit with a cover of Stir It Up – but found themselves unable to pay for their trip home.

Blackwell offered to sign the band to Island, paying them an advance to cover their air fares and cost of recording an album in Jamaica.

Much to the band’s displeasure, some of the songs were overdubbed to make them more palatable to an international audience.

“I felt the way to break the Wailers was as a black rock act; I wanted some rock elements in there,” Blackwell later told Rolling Stone. “Bunny and Peter didn’t want to leave Jamaica, so Bob came to England when we did the overdubs.”

The album was not a major seller and failed to chart in both the US and UK – but it has become widely recognised as a classic. Rolling Stone magazine recently placed it at number 140 in its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, writing “the Wailers’ ghetto rage comes across uncut” in songs like Concrete Jungle and Slave Driver.

Commercial success followed with 1973’s Burnin’, which featured classic cuts like I Shot The Sheriff, Small Axe and Get Up, Stand Up.

However, it was to be the Wailers last album to feature the original Wailers line-up.

Tensions already present were exacerbated by Island marketing their albums under the name Bob Marley and The Wailers, and a touring schedule that kept Livingston away from his family.

He eventually left in 1973, saying the touring lifestyle clashed with his Rastafarian beliefs – citing the pressure to eat processed foods and play “freak clubs”. He later said fame was the enemy of creativity.

“Music is based on inspiration and if you’re in an environment where you are up and down, here and there, that’s how your music is going to sound,” Livingston told The Los Angeles Times in 1986.

“People get taken away in getting themselves to be a star and that is a different thing from getting yourself to be a good writer, musician, producer and arranger.”

Free from the band, he began to work on his solo album Blackheart Man, which included classic songs like Dreamland and Fighting Against Conviction, which was inspired by his stint in prison.

He went on to release several acclaimed albums, including 1981’s Rock ‘n’ Groove and 1980s’s Bunny Wailer Sings The Wailers, which saw him revisit some of the band’s classic material.

In the 1990s, he won the Grammy award for best reggae album three times – with each of those records extending and preserving the legacy of Marley and the Wailers: 1991’s Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley, 1995’s Crucial! Roots Classics, and the 1997’s all-star Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary.

“I’m satisfied with knowing that I’m serving the purpose of getting reggae music to be where it’s at,” he told the Washington Post in 2006. “I’m proud to be part of that.”

UKs first LGBT retirement community to open in London

What is described as the UK’s first retirement community celebrating LGBT+ people is set to open.

The 19 flats at Bankhouse in Vauxhall, central London, will be available on a shared-ownership basis, with residents expected to move in by mid-summer.

The apartments were bought by Tonic Housing with a £5.7m loan from the mayor of London.

Sadiq Khan said: “Londoners deserve to enjoy their later years surrounded by a supportive community.”

There has been growing interest in retirement homes aimed specifically at LGBT+ communities. A recent national survey found as people grew older and were in care homes, some felt they could not be open about being LGBT, and felt scared.

The one and two-bedroom flats which overlook the River Thames are in an existing development run by One Housing. It provides assisted living for elderly residents, with a restaurant, bar, floating garden and roof terrace.

Tonic Housing’s CEO Anna Kear said the additional services offered would be “genuinely aimed at the needs and desires of LGBT+ people”.

She added: “The existing residents are already a diverse bunch, requesting casino nights and a drag show. They are looking forward to new ones moving in.”

Prices are expected to reach £135,000 for a one-bedroom flat with a 25% ownership-share, and £180,000 for a two-bedroom flat.

Hampshire police officer pretended to have cancer

A police officer pretended to have cancer to get out of work and created a “web of lies”, a disciplinary hearing has found.

PC Olivia Lucas lied about having treatment for leukaemia between October 2018 and July 2019, a Hampshire police misconduct panel said.

The New Forest officer also exploited colleagues who held events to raise money for her, the force said.

She was found guilty of breaching professional standards.

Ms Lucas tried to “destroy the relationships and reputations” of colleagues by creating fake documents including a county court judgement, the panel said.

She also fabricated a surveillance log and false messages from the Professional Standards Department, it added.

The former constable also made up offensive and threatening messages, which she claimed were sent to her by other serving officers, the panel found.

Panel chairwoman Jane Jones said the public would be appalled at Ms Lucas’s “truly disgraceful conduct”.

Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable Ben Snuggs said: “This officer… undertook an orchestrated, calculated and vindictive campaign to destroy the relationships and reputations of innocent colleagues.

“One of most disturbing aspects of this case is the complete lack of respect she showed to the very real lived experiences of cancer patients and survivors.”

Ms Lucas resigned before the hearing, which would have dismissed her from the force.

The panel ruled she breached standards in relation to honesty, integrity and discreditable conduct.

Calls for Nicola Sturgeon to quit over Alex Salmond revelations

Nicola Sturgeon is facing calls to resign after new documents raised further questions about her involvement in the Alex Salmond saga.

The government has published emails showing it continued a legal fight with Mr Salmond despite its lawyers advising it was likely to lose.

Further evidence from two other witnesses has also called into question Ms Sturgeon’s version of events.

Ms Sturgeon is to face a Holyrood inquiry into the affair on Wednesday.

The Scottish Conservatives said there was “no longer any doubt that Nicola Sturgeon lied to the Scottish Parliament and broke the ministerial code on numerous counts.”

The party said they would be submitting a motion of no confidence in the first minister.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said the new documents showed that the government’s handling of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond had been “indefensible”.

Ms Sturgeon has previously denied breaching the ministerial code – the rules setting out how government ministers are expected to behave – and has said she is “relishing” the opportunity to put her side of the story forward.

She has also dismissed Mr Salmond’s claims that people close to her had plotted against him as untrue, saying there was no evidence to back up the allegations and accusing her predecessor of creating an “alternative reality”.

A raft of new documents published by the government on Wednesday evening included email advice it had received warning that it was likely to lose a judicial review of its handling of the complaints against Mr Salmond.

Emails show a senior lawyer was “very concerned indeed” about the case in October 2018, with the government’s counsel urging it to admit defeat by 6 December.

But it did not do so until January 2019, when it had to pay Mr Salmond’s legal fees of more than £500,000 after admitting its investigation into the allegations had been unlawful.

This was because the investigating officer had had prior contact with the complainers.

Mr Salmond was later cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault against a total of nine women after a separate criminal trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in March of last year.

The Scottish government had refused to publish the legal advice it had received until opposition parties pushed for a vote on no confidence in Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Mr Swinney said the papers showed that legal advice was “optimistic” in the first instance, but that it “became gradually but progressively less optimistic over time”.

And he said the government had taken the “right and proper” approach by conceding “within a matter of days” of being told the case was no longer winnable.

Meanwhile, the committee has also published submissions from Duncan Hamilton – a former SNP MSP and lawyer for Mr Salmond – and Kevin Pringle, a former SNP communications director.

The former first minister had cited both men as offering corroboration of his claims about his meetings with Ms Sturgeon, and that the name of one of the complainers had been passed to him in advance.

Both said they agreed this had happened – despite Ms Sturgeon telling MSPs that “to the very best of my knowledge I do not think that happened”.

Ms Sturgeon has also maintained that she only learned of the complaints against Mr Salmond at a meeting at her home on 2 April 2018 – despite accepting she had met his former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, at her Holyrood office on 29 March.

Mr Pringle and Mr Hamilton said they had taken part in a conference call with Mr Aberdein ahead of the 29 March meeting, and said he was clear that “the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the two complaints”.

Mr Hamilton was present at the meeting on 2 April, and said that “when we arrived, everyone in the room knew exactly why we were there – no introduction to the subject was needed and no one was in any doubt what we were there to discuss”.

The former MSP also insisted that Ms Sturgeon had offered to assist Mr Salmond in seeking mediation with the complainers saying she had told him that “if it comes to it, I will intervene”.

However Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in January 2019 that “I was always clear that I had no role in the process – I did not seek to intervene in it at any stage”.

Childrens doctors given fabricated illness guidance

Doctors are being issued with new guidance for cases where children are repeatedly brought in when there is nothing wrong.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says cases where parents know there’s nothing wrong are rare.

Instead genuine, if misplaced, health anxieties are more common.

They advise referring to “perplexing symptoms” instead of “fabricated or induced illness”.

Paediatricians say there has been a rise in cases where children are repeatedly brought in, despite nothing being found to be wrong.

The unexplained symptoms could be because a genuine condition has not yet been diagnosed.

And there are cases where a parent or carer might make up or cause illness in their children – a rare form of abuse which used to be known as Munchausen’s By Proxy Syndrome.

But often, doctors say, it is genuine concerns – and they believe the rise may be fuelled by bad information online.

The RCPCH has updated its decade-old guidance to suggest “fabricate or induced illness” should only be used if there is evidence a child is about to come to serious harm.

For cases where there is no immediate risk to their safety, the guidance recommended a move to talking about children with “perplexing presentation”.

This puts emphasis on the fact the doctor doesn’t yet know what the problem is rather than on “blaming” parents, said Dr Danya Glaser, a psychiatrist who specialises in child protection.

“If a parent is anxious about their child, you have to listen, you have to actually look at the child and find out if their anxiety is not misplaced,” she said.

If, after nothing has been found, a parent continues to keep their child away from school and seeks a third or fourth medical opinion to the point that it begins to harm the child, that’s when further conversations need to be had, Dr Glaser added.

Keeping an open mind allows for the fact a small number of these children could have “that one rare condition”, said Dr Emilia Wawrzkowicz, a consultant paediatrician and safeguarding specialist for Cambridge and Peterborough.

Previously, if fabrication or exaggeration was suspected, doctors would share information with children’s social care without telling parents what they were doing.

The new guidance says parents should be told if information was going to be shared, as part of what Dr Glaser described as an “open and honest dialogue”.

Much of the medical literature around Munchausen’s By Proxy has focused on parents trying to deceive doctors by falsifying medical records, symptoms or causing their children to become ill.

But Dr Alison Steele, the RCPCH’s safeguarding officer said it was “very rare for parents or carers to deliberately induce illness in a child by, for example, poisoning them or withholding treatment.

“Most cases are based on incorrect beliefs or misplaced anxiety which, unchecked, can cause children to undergo harms ranging from missing school and seeing friends, to undergoing unnecessary and painful or even harmful tests and treatments”.

The key aim should be getting the child back in to education and away from unnecessary medical interventions, the guidance says, as well as providing appropriate support and mental health care for the parent or carer.

Peter Whittinghams pub stairs fall death accidental

An ex-Cardiff City player hit his head and died after falling down stairs at a pub in a pretend fight with friends, an inquest heard.

Midfielder Peter Whittingham, 35, who played for the club from 2007 to 2017, suffered a traumatic head injury at the Park Hotel, Barry, on 7 March 2020.

He did not regain consciousness and died in hospital 11 days later.

Coroner Graeme Hughes recorded a verdict of accidental death at the inquest at Pontypridd Coroner’s Court.

The hearing was told how Mr Whittingham had been drinking for hours while watching Wales v England in the Six Nations.

He was out with his brother-in-law and a friend when the incident happened just after 21:30 GMT.

Mr Whittingham’s wife Amanda said he had not eaten since breakfast as he had been in a “rush” to watch the game when he left home at 15:00 GMT.

CCTV footage showed him in a pub corridor engaging in “horseplay” before appearing to lose balance and walking through a fire door off camera, where he fell down eight steps and hit his head.

Robert Williams, Mr Whittingham’s brother-in-law, told Pontypridd Coroner’s Court they had been drinking lager, bitter and tequila through the afternoon and evening along with friend Ryan Taylor, and the evening was a “blackout” in his memory.

He described finding the footballer lying at the bottom of the stairs with his face to the side, but when he tried to lift him, Mr Whittingham’s body was limp.

Mr Taylor said he remembered people wanting to take pictures with Mr Whittingham in the corridor but also had no memory of play fighting or the fall.

“I walked over to him to offer my hand, thinking he would just take it and I would help him back up to his feet. When I looked more closely at Peter, I could see he wasn’t moving and something was wrong,” he told the court.

Mr Taylor said Mr Whittingham’s eyes were “wide open and were almost completely white” having rolled to the back of his head.

He was taken to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff but his condition deteriorated and he died on 18 March.

Coroner Graeme Hughes, who recorded a conclusion of accidental death, said Mr Whittingham had “consumed a quantity of alcohol that has likely impacted on his demeanour and steadiness” before he fell.

He said: “During a period of horseplay with a friend and a relative he appeared to have lost his balance, travelled through or caused to open the fire door, fallen, and as he did so his head has come into contact with the steps.

“This has led to a traumatic head injury.”

After leaving Cardiff in 2017, Mr Whittingham, originally from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, ended his career with Blackburn Rovers in 2018 before moving back to south Wales.

He was living in Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan, with Amanda and his young son when he died.

Mrs Whittingham gave birth to their second son two months after his death.

Downing Street: Plan to fund makeover of PMs residence speculation

No 10 has refused to comment on reports Boris Johnson is considering setting up a charity to pay for refurbishments to his official Downing Street residence.

The Daily Mail reported that a revamp of the flat lived in by the PM and his fiancee Carrie Symonds could be funded by wealthy Conservative benefactors.

A spokeswoman said Downing Street was a Grade One listed building which had been periodically improved in the past.

David and Samantha Cameron made major changes after moving in in 2010.

The couple spent the maximum £30,000 public grant available to prime ministers each year for the upkeep of their accommodation on upgrading the four-bedroom flat above 11 Downing Street where they lived.

Although No 11 is the chancellor’s official residence, its flat has regularly come to be used by prime ministers – including Mr Johnson – in recent years as it is much larger than the one above No 10.

Tony Blair and Cherie Blair spent thousands on turning the space into a family home when they lived there.

Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds moved into No 11 in July 2019. Their son Wilfred was born in April 2020.

There have been unconfirmed reports that the couple are undertaking extensive refurbishment work on the flat and considering options for how any expenditure over the £30,000 annual limit would be covered.

No 10 said suggestions some of the work could be funded by Tory supporters via a charity set up for the purpose of preserving Downing Street’s heritage were “speculation”.

In the US, a scheme of this kind pays for restoration work in the White House.

No 10 said details of any work carried out on the property would be published in the normal way later this year.

“Matters concerning any work on Downing Street, including the residences, are covered in the Cabinet Office annual report and accounts,” a spokeswoman said. “That is where we set out the details of what has happened.

“Downing Street is a working building, as has been the case under successive administrations, refurbishment and maintenance are made periodically.”

In 2011, the Cabinet Office was forced to reveal details of the scale of the work undertaken by the Camerons after a ruling by the then Information Commissioner Christopher Graham.

It revealed that much of the expenditure had gone on a new kitchen, while the flat had been almost completely re-wired, re-plumbed and re-decorated. The couple covered the cost of furniture, fittings and accessories themselves.

Their sleek, modern kitchen was much commented on after it served as a backdrop to a famous picture of Samantha Cameron entertaining First Lady Michelle Obama in Downing Street during the 2011 US state visit.

The 2011 accounts also showed more than £650,000 had been spent on external and internal renovation of the offices and reception rooms in No 10, including cabling, plumbing and energy efficiency improvements.

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