Partygate report release today; Boris resigns amid kangaroo court claims

The long-awaited report from the Privileges Committee, which examines whether former Prime Minister Boris Johnson intentionally misled Parliament about Partygate, is slated for release today. Johnson resigned as an MP after seeing an advanced copy of the report, stating that it found him guilty “regardless of the facts.”

The investigation has been ongoing for a year, and yesterday Johnson requested the resignation of a committee member after accusing them of breaching Covid restrictions. The Guido Fawkes website alleged that senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, a member of the committee, attended a birthday celebration for his wife in the House of Commons in December 2020, during which time social mixing outside of households or support bubbles was prohibited in London. Despite investigating, the BBC has not been able to independently confirm these allegations.

Originally, Sir Bernard denied attending any drinks parties during lockdown. However, when asked by a Guido Fawkes reporter about his attendance at his wife’s birthday event, he reportedly said, “I don’t recall.” Dame Eleanor Laing, the Deputy Speaker who allegedly hosted the party, responded, “I took advice on how many could be present in a room, I had the room measured and I kept a two-metre ruler so that I could always verify that nobody who was working here was put at risk.”

Johnson has written to Labour’s Harriet Harman, chair of the inquiry, demanding clarification on whether she ensured that panel members had not attended such events before launching the inquiry. According to Johnson, if the reports are true, Sir Bernard is “guilty of flagrant and monstrous hypocrisy.”

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In his previous remarks, Johnson labelled the committee as a “kangaroo court” with a “witch-hunt” agenda against him and accused Harman of “egregious bias.” The committee countered by stating that they had “followed the procedures” at all times and asserted that Johnson’s claims impugned “the integrity of the House by his statement”.

Late Monday night, Johnson submitted a last-minute letter to the committee in response to their findings. Under the published process, Johnson was permitted to respond to the committee up to 14 days after receiving the draft findings, which were sent last week. The committee announced that it would address the new developments and “report promptly.”

The seven-person committee, comprising a majority of Conservatives, has spent nearly a year determining whether Johnson misled MPs about Covid-19 breaches in Downing Street and his knowledge of these breaches. Testifying in March, Johnson admitted to misleading Parliament but denied doing so intentionally. He stated that social distancing was not “perfect” at Downing Street gatherings during Covid lockdowns but insisted that the guidelines, as he understood them, were followed.

The Partygate scandal plagued Johnson’s time as prime minister, resulting in police fining him for breaking Covid rules in 2020; this made him the first serving UK prime minister to be sanctioned for breaking the law. Johnson’s resignation as an MP, which led to a by-election in his marginal constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, occurred last Friday.

Addressing the draft report he had seen, Johnson stated that it was “riddled with inaccuracies and reeks of prejudice” and that the committee appeared “determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of Parliament.” Johnson maintained that there was no evidence that he knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons and insisted, “I did not lie.”

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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