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by Staff reporter
03 March 2023
Partygate lockdown breaches would have been 'obvious' to Boris Johnson

Partygate lockdown breaches would have been 'obvious' to Boris Johnson

A committee of MPs investigating whether Boris Johnson misled parliament over partygate has said it would have been “obvious” to the then prime minister that Covid breaches had occurred.

The privileges committee, which has yet to publish its final report, has summoned Johnson to give evidence on whether he misled parliament over what he knew about lockdown parties in Downing Street.

In an update, the committee said evidence suggested that breaches of the rules would have been “obvious” to Johnson. The inquiry is reported to have found four examples of where the former PM may have misled the Commons.

The former prime minister has accepted an invitation from the cross-party committee of MPs – which will comprise of four Conservatives, two Labour, and one SNP – for the week commencing 20 March 2023.

The date and time of the meeting is yet to be announced, and Johnson has been invited to provide written evidence – which will be published should he choose to do.

Johnson signed off on the inquiry into rule-breaking parties in Downing Street during lockdown in the months before he resigned as prime minister last year.

An image taken at a gathering on 13 November 2020 which has been released by the committee

Among the areas the inquiry is exploring is what Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons and if it was misleading, how quickly any misleading statements were corrected, whether the House was misled, and whether it constitute contempt of the House.

The committee said: “If a statement was misleading, we will consider whether that was inadvertent, reckless or intentional.

“If we conclude it was in any way reckless or intentional we will consider what sanction to recommend to the House. It will be for the House to decide whether to accept or reject our conclusions and recommendations.”

It comes as a growing number of Tory MPs expressing outrage at the departure of senior civil servant Sue Gray – who led a separate investigation into partygate – to join the Labour party.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has been a staunch Johnson ally and served in his cabinet, has suggested the appointment raises doubt over the impartiality of civil servants.

“So much for an impartial civil service, the Gray report now looks like a left wing stitch up against a Tory Prime Minister,” said Rees-Mogg. 

However, Labour has defended Gray’s record – with shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell telling Good Morning Britain she is a “incredibly professional, impartial and generous person who was really good at her job”.

Read more at Politics Home

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