The fuss over the refurbishment of the prime minister’s apartment brings back memories of another Westminster interior decor scandal – though this one involved a pillar of the legal establishment and £650,000 in public money. Back in 2011, the nation was agog to discover that Tony Blair’s lord chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, had approved the spending on his official apartment in the House of Lords.
Notoriously, the refurb bill included rolls of wallpaper at £400 a time.
Irvine defended the investment as a ‘noble cause’, saying it would be appreciated by future generations. But the Conservatives made hay. One Kenneth Clarke MP observed drily that Irvine ‘might acknowledge that it was rather unwise to rush into a programme of this kind’.
Of his luxury wallpaper, Irvine said: ‘You are talking about quality materials capable of lasting 60 or 70 years.’ Obiter trusts that, despite the occasional red wine stain, it hangs there still.