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Johnson accepts he misled MPs over partygate but insists he spoke ‘in good faith’

21 Mar 2023 3 minute read
Former prime minister Boris Johnson leaves his home in London. Photo Aaron Chown PA Images

Boris Johnson has accepted that he misled MPs but insisted his partygate denials were made “in good faith” based on what he “honestly” knew at the time.

The former prime minister insisted in his written evidence to the Privileges Committee inquiry that he “did not intentionally or recklessly mislead the House”.

His 52-page defence dossier was published on Tuesday, a day before he faces a live grilling by the cross-party group of MPs in a hearing that could decide his political fate.

In his legal argument, Mr Johnson accepted that his denials turned out not to be true but said he corrected the record at the “earliest opportunity”.

However he insisted there is “no evidence at all that supports an allegation that I intentionally or recklessly misled the House”, as he battles to avoid a possible suspension.

“So I accept that the House of Commons was misled by my statements that the Rules and Guidance had been followed completely at No 10,” he wrote.

“But when the statements were made, they were made in good faith and on the basis of what I honestly knew and believed at the time.

“I did not intentionally or recklessly mislead the House on December 1 2021, December 8 2021, or on any other date. I would never have dreamed of doing so.”

Discredited

He insisted that, other than the “assertions of the discredited Dominic Cummings”, his former chief aide, there is “not a single document that indicates that I received any warning or advice that any event broke” the rules.

Mr Johnson rejected the committee’s belief that the evidence strongly suggested breaches of coronavirus rules would have been “obvious” to the then-prime minister.

He called the inquiry’s allegation “illogical”, arguing that some of those who attended the events “wished me ill and would denounce me if I concealed the truth”.

“Far from achieving a ‘cover-up’, I would have known that any deception on my part would lead to instant exposure. This would have been senseless and immediately self-defeating,” he wrote.

He said it was “implausible” that he would have known the parties photographed and “immortalised” by his official photographer were rule-breaking.

If Mr Johnson fails to convince the committee he did not deliberately mislead the Commons, he could be found to have committed a contempt of Parliament.

A suspension of more than 10 days could result in a high-profile by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat.

The full House of Commons would vote on any recommendations.

Free vote

Rishi Sunak has committed to giving his MPs a free vote over his predecessor’s fate, but the Prime Minister has declined to reject claims from some of Mr Johnson’s allies that the process is a “witch hunt”.

They have questioned the role of Labour grandee Harriet Harman chairing the Tory-majority committee and the use of the Sue Gray report, now she plans to join Sir Keir Starmer’s office.

Mr Johnson received one of the 126 fines issued by Scotland Yard during its investigation into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall while he was prime minister.

An estimated £220,000 of taxpayers’ money has been allocated for Mr Johnson’s legal bills.

An interim report by the committee earlier this month said evidence strongly suggested breaches of coronavirus rules would have been “obvious” to the then-prime minister.

The Privileges Committee is considering at least four occasions when Mr Johnson may have misled MPs with his assurances that lockdown rules were followed.


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Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
11 months ago

Independence is becoming essential if only to retain some semblance of sanity.

Gareth
Gareth
11 months ago

There can only be one conclusion from his remarks ,either he is a liar, which he has been proven to be in the past, or he is a complete idiot, fool, and an imbecile of the first order. To not be able to recognise what a “party” is, when people all around him are drinking alcohol and there are drinks on the table, along with food, if he can not see that is a party, he should never be allowed to serve in any form of official office or be allowed to stand for any political post.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
11 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Oh come on, his dossier actually mentions the “Secret Santa” and exchange of gifts. I actually got as far as page 4 before hurling my laptop across the lounge. You have a go see how far you get.
https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/23718901/borisdossierprivilegescommittee.pdf

Gareth
Gareth
11 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Got as far as reading point No 1, that was enough, the hypocrisy of just that made me want to punch him. He was in charge, and did not know what was going on, cac utter CAC.

Mawkernewek
11 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

it reminds me of that bit in Animal Farm when the pigs try to make excuses why they should be allowed to drink beer etc.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 months ago

I find it hard to accept that Fat Shanks has ever done anything in ‘good faith’ in his life…

hdavies15
hdavies15
11 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

“Good faith ! My arse” as the old Royle Family guy would say.

Lib Dem YesCymru Infiltrator
Lib Dem YesCymru Infiltrator
11 months ago

Tories brought Johnson in to wave in front of Brexit voters, who voted to end immigration-dependent globalised economics. But Tories see Brexit as a neo-liberal project which is the opposite of what most voted for. Brexit was a vote against Tory ideology, and now most see Johnson was a lie.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 months ago

Those who whip up hatred from the TV screen and from the dispatch box must be held to account…second attack with flammable liquid…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Extremists influence but Politicians legitimise…in front of posters of columns of refugees, from the panels of question time and from the houses of parliament, from the front page of newspapers and their own talk shows, from the steps of airliners and the side of buses…and the harm they do is far greater than any thug on the street…

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
11 months ago

The Conservative’s are aping Donald Trump’s Republican party one for word to get serial liar Boris Johnson off any charge that he knowingly mislead Westminster over partygate when the evidence proves otherwise. He knew exactly what he was doing, was pictured attending numerous “gatherings”, some with birthday cake visible on tables, drank alcohol in close proximity against the very advise he parroted on TV. But if he isn’t found guilty of deliberately misleading parliament, removed as an MP, will send a message that the establishment are a law unto themselves, a decision which would effectively be like spitting in the… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
11 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Exactly, ignorance is no defence.

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