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by Kirsteen Paterson
15 June 2023
Boris Johnson partygate report finds ex-PM deliberately misled parliament

Boris Johnson partygate report finds ex-PM deliberately misled parliament

Boris Johnson deliberately misled parliament over partygate, a committee of MPs has found.

The former prime minister quit the Commons last week after receiving a draft copy of the report by the Privileges Committee.

The full version has been published this morning and states that the former Conservative MP committed a serious contempt while he was prime minister.

It says he impugned the cross-party committee investigating his conduct and was "complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation" of members.

It recommends a 90-day suspension and says he should not be entitled to a pass entitling former MPs access to the parliamentary estate.

However, two MPs felt the suspension did not go far enough and wanted Johnson to be expelled from the House instead following his repeated denials of lockdown-breaking gatherings in Number 10. Dubbed partygate, the scandal cost Johnson his premiership after his own MPs deserted him. He first told the House that no such parties had taken place during lockdown, before later saying that no rules had been broken.

The committee said: "We conclude that when he told the House and this committee that the rules and guidance were being complied with, his own knowledge was such that he deliberately misled the House and this committee."

There is no precedent for a prime minister to have deliberately misled the House of Commons, the report found. It states: "He misled the House on an issue of the greatest importance to the House and to the public, and did so repeatedly."

The threshold for triggering a recall petition to remove an MP for parliament is 10 sitting days, and the recommended suspension for Johnson far exceeds this.

The sanctions recommended in the report will have to be voted on by MPs.

The issue was referred to the committee in April 2022 and today's report is around 30,000 words long. 

Chaired by Harriet Harman, the committee includes four Tory MPs, two from Labour and one SNP member, Allan Dorans, who suggested that the recommendation for suspension be replaced with one of expulsion from the House. That measure was supported by Labour's Yvonne Fovargue, but voted down by Conservatives Andy Carter, Alberto Costa, Sir Bernard Jenkin and Sir Charles Walker.

In a furious resignation statement, Johnson branded the committee a "kangaroo court" and accused members of holding bias against him.

The report notes his "attacks in very strong, indeed vitriolic, terms" against the "integrity, honesty and honour" of panel members, saying: "This attack on a committee carrying out its remit from the democratically elected House itself amounts to an attack on our democratic institutions."

The inquiry, the committee said, "goes to the very heart of our democracy", stating: "Our democracy depends on MPs being able to trust that what ministers tell them in the House of Commons is the truth."

Johnson has called the report's publication "a dreadful day for democracy", branding its contents a "lie".

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