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15th Jun 2023

Boris Johnson knowingly misled parliament over partygate, privileges committee finds

Steve Hopkins

Johnson’s breachers were serious enough to recommend a suspension of 90 days if he were still an MP

Boris Johnson knowingly misled parliament multiple times in his statements about parties in Downing Street that breached covid rules, a parliamentary inquiry found on Thursday.

“The contempt was all the more serious because it was committed by the prime minister, the most senior member of the government,” the report by the Privileges Committee found.

“There is no precedent for a prime minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House.”

The committee found Johnson’s breachers were serious enough to recommend a suspension of 90 days if he were still an MP.

The publication of the report comes after the former PM quit as an MP on Friday after receiving its draft findings. He then accused the Privileges Committee of “egregious bias” and claimed its MPs were determined to “drive me out of Parliament”.

Johnson has been under investigation since last June, after police examined his behaviour, and then senior civil servant Sue Gray confirmed a series of gatherings had taken place in Downing Street during lockdowns.

The cross-party committee, led by Labour MP Harriet Harman, assessed whether Johnson misled parliament – either recklessly or deliberately – with his statements claiming all covid rules and guidance were followed by Number 10.

On Tuesday, Johnson criticised the delay in releasing the report and dismissed the committee’s findings, saying: “The Privileges Committee should publish their report and let the world judge their nonsense.

“They have no excuse for delay. Their absurdly unfair rules do not even allow any criticism of their findings. I have made my views clear to the committee in writing – and will do so more widely when they finally publish.”

In a last-ditch attempt to disparage the Tory-majority panel on the eve of publication, he called for its most senior Conservative member to resign.

The committee collected evidence, including WhatsApp messages, emails and photos, from those understood to have been at the parties and those with knowledge of them.

Before being question by the committee in March, Johnson accepted he misled parliament but insisted his statements were made “in good faith”.

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