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Privileges Committee finds Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament over whether Covid lockdown rules were broken in No 10

15 Jun 2023 4 minute read
Photo showing former Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and then Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak at a gathering in the Cabinet Room in 10 Downing Street on his birthday. Sue Gray Report/Cabinet Office

Boris Johnson committed “repeated contempts” of Parliament by deliberately misleading MPs with his partygate denials before being complicit in a campaign of abuse and intimidation, a cross-party investigation has found.

The Privileges Committee recommended a 90-day suspension which would have paved the way for a by-election for the former prime minister if he had not quit the Commons in anticipation.

Though his resignation means he will escape that punishment, the committee recommended that he should not receive the pass granting access to Parliament which is normally given to former MPs.

Mr Johnson hit out at what he called a “deranged conclusion”, accusing the Tory-majority group of MPs he has repeatedly sought to disparage of lying.

He called the committee led by Labour veteran Harriet Harman “beneath contempt” and claimed its 14-month investigation had delivered “what is intended to be the final knife-thrust in a protracted political assassination”.

They found he had committed a “serious contempt” for “deliberately misleading” MPs by insisting all rules had been followed in Downing Street despite lockdown-breaching parties.

The MPs had provisionally agreed a suspension long enough to potentially trigger a by-election before he resigned in protest at the findings, attacking the committee as a “kangaroo court”.

But they said he committed further contempts for undermining the democratic processes of the Commons and being “complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the committee”.

The committee said in the report: “We came to the view that some of Mr Johnson’s denials and explanations were so disingenuous that they were by their very nature deliberate attempts to mislead the committee and the House, while others demonstrated deliberation because of the frequency with which he closed his mind to the truth.”

Contempt

It found he also breached confidentiality requirements in his resignation statement by criticising the committee’s provisional findings.

“Mr Johnson’s conduct in making this statement is in itself a very serious contempt,” the report said.

The committee said his resignation last Friday means it is “impossible” for the recommended suspension to be imposed.

It far exceeded the 10-day threshold which, if approved by the wider House of Commons, could have led to a recall petition in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.

Attacking the committee’s findings, Mr Johnson said: “This is rubbish. It is a lie.

“This is a dreadful day for MPs and for democracy.”

The committee, comprised of four Tories, two Labour MPs, and one from the SNP, found he misled the House in five ways with his Covid-19 assurances and had been “disingenuous” with their investigation multiple times.

They found many aspects of his defence were “not credible”, allowing them to conclude he “intended to mislead” MPs.

The committee dismissed Mr Johnson’s argument that mid-pandemic staff leaving dos were essential to maintain staff morale, noting they attracted police fines while the rules would have been clear to him.

“A workplace ‘thank you’, leaving drink, birthday celebration or motivational event is obviously neither essential or reasonably necessary,” the MPs wrote.

“That belief, which he continues to assert, has no reasonable basis in the rules or on the facts.”

Disingenuous

They criticised his persistence in arguing a “unsustainable interpretation” of the rules to argue events were permissible as being “disingenuous and a retrospective contrivance to mislead”.

The MPs considered whether it should have recommended expelling Mr Johnson from the Commons.

During discussion of the report’s final findings, the SNP’s Allan Dorans and Labour’s Yvonne Fovargue backed the stronger sanction.

But the amendment was opposed by the Conservative members: Sir Charles Walker, Andy Carter, Alberto Costa and Sir Bernard Jenkin, whom Mr Johnson has urged to resign over his own alleged rule-breach.

Poison

Responding to the committee’s report, Plaid Cymru Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP said: “The people of Wales made up their minds a long time ago – Boris Johnson is a liar who should never be allowed to poison our politics again.

“The Tories are now in a full-blown civil war over personalities and peerages. Meanwhile, ordinary people can’t afford basic necessities and see their mortgages and rents going through the roof on Westminster’s watch.

“People have had enough. The only way to bring this grotesque saga to an end is through a general election.”


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A.Redman
A.Redman
10 months ago

It was reported that there could have been a 20 day ban.Now it says a 90 day ban .Why the misinformation? No wonder there is a degree of confusion!

George Thomas
George Thomas
10 months ago
Reply to  A.Redman

“There could be a 20 day ban”

How is that misinformation? They didn’t say there would be a 20 day ban.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
10 months ago
Reply to  A.Redman

You’re right, he should have been banned from the HoC and barred from any future peerage for life, we don’t need scum like this involved in UK politics

Llyn
Llyn
10 months ago

Does Andrew RT Davies still think Johnson is NOT a liar? If he keeps to this line then he is saying that the Privileges Committee and with it the UK Parliament is complicit in a corrupt witch hunt of a former PM. Quite bizarre from a man who wants no more powers devolved from that exact same body.

I presume that RT will be furiously tweeting out crazed attacks on his political opponents today as part of a ridiculous diversionary tactic.

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago

Didn’t take any courage or a great deal of insight to figure out that Boris was and remains a serial fibber on a grand scale. The big challenge is to stop him reentering politics in any meaningful way. Let him dwell on the sidelines scribbling gibberish and turning up to give meaningless lectures to gullible audiences willing to part with 6 figure fees. That won’t last long as even they will tire of him. Then it will be panto in provincial theatres.

George Thomas
George Thomas
10 months ago

I guess Boris Johnson stopped being useful to political right and so everything he was which could be hidden or defended has been brought to the light.

Boris was ousted on basis of “misleading” parliament and breaking confidentiality of the report. He was wasn’t ousted for lying to the public, taking decisions which put their lives at risk or pushed people into poverty.

It’s scary and wrong that this is how politics works. It should be so much better than that.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

From ‘straight bananas’ to Banana Republic…

From agent provocateur to Serial Killer and UK’s Nemesis…

From BBC to BNP…

@Slash, Burn & Pillage (UK)…

Directors: Sunak & Hunt Wealth Extractors International…

Who voted for this?

Last edited 10 months ago by Mab Meirion
Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
10 months ago

The report, on which there was a tory majority remember, showed that Johnson and tory staff partied while people were dying. This report is also very important because it firmly establishes that Johnson is a liar (something a lot of us have known for a long time).

wayne
wayne
10 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Johnson was guilty as charged, Gone! How did Stamer get away with having a Curry and a Pint ‘o’ a working lunch late in the day behind Labour party office doors, a party by another name! or was it a social, no, socialist curry night out with friends. He needs to go as well.

wayne
wayne
10 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

I concurred with Leigh Richards comments that ‘Tory Staff Partied while people were dying’ Johnson Lied, Sunak was there why hasn’t he gone. Why is Stamer still in Place? He was partying in Durham with Angela Rayner, Why haven’t they gone?

Last edited 10 months ago by wayne
The Original Mark
The Original Mark
10 months ago

Why are the other people in the picture blurred out, they are present at an illegal gathering, so therefore guilty. Don’t know why it’s cost in excess of £100k to prove what we already knew, Johnson and his cronies are a bunch of lying c*nts

Windy
Windy
10 months ago

This man who has done so much damage to the uk should not be allowed to hand out honours to his cronies and henchmen, he should be publicly lambasted for not only telling lies to pestminster but to the general public , but even that wouldn’t shame him his skin is as thick as the people who still support him

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
10 months ago

He Johnson had been sacked before for lying twice he is a compulsive liar only fools and the Right wing tory nut jobs would believe what he says i think my old Gran used to call liars TOMMY PEPPER

Frank
Frank
10 months ago

Fine him £50. That will teach him!

Ap Kenneth
10 months ago

Perhaps he can now be ivestigated for his links to the ex-KGB agent Lebedev and his visits to Tuscany, remember when he slipped his Police minders as Foreign Sec and returned back on a Easy Jet flight with a hangover, and the denied visit while PM?

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