Boris Johnson accused of 'an attack on democracy' as Partygate report rules he misled Parliament in five different ways

15 June 2023, 10:03

Boris Johnson jogging today (l) and in front of the privileges committee (top r). Bernard Jenkin (bottom l) and Harriet Harman (bottom r)
Boris Johnson jogging today (l) and in front of the privileges committee (top r). Bernard Jenkin (bottom l) and Harriet Harman (bottom r). Picture: Getty/Alamy

By StephenRigley

Boris Johnson has been accused of an 'attack on democracy' who knowingly misled parliament five times in his statements about parties in Downing Street that breached Covid rules.

The former prime minister has been under investigation by the Commons privileges committee since last June, after an investigation by police and then senior civil servant Sue Gray confirmed a series of gatherings had taken place in Downing Street during lockdowns.

Today in a bombshell report the committee said he had been "disingenuous" and if he had not already as an MP he should have been suspended for 90 days.

The report also said Mr Johnson should be banned from getting a former MP pass for the Parliamentary estate.

Boris Johnson jogging today
Boris Johnson jogging today. Picture: Getty
Boris Johnson appearing before the privileges committee
Boris Johnson appearing before the privileges committee. Picture: Getty

Read More: Boris Johnson deliberately misled parliament in Partygate scandal with 'unprecedented, serious contempt,' report finds

Read More: Read in full: Partygate report finds Boris Johnson deliberately misled MPs and was facing 90-day suspension

But Mr Johnson and his allies accusing the cross-party group - which has a Labour chairwoman but a Tory majority among the seven members - of "monstrous hypocrisy" and bias against him.

In a statement this morning, he dismissed the findings as "tripe" and "deranged", saying the committee was "beneath contempt" and part of a "protracted political assassination".

"We didn't believe that what we were doing was wrong, and after a year of work the Privileges Committee has found not a shred of evidence that we did," he said.

He repeated his demand that senior Tory and arch critic Sir Bernard Jenkin follow him in resigning after allegations emerged that he attended a drinks party for his wife in Parliament during lockdown.

He said: "The hypocrisy is rank. Like Harriet Harman, he should have recused himself from the inquiry, since he is plainly conflicted."

In the 108-page report, 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.

"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." 

The MPs said that Mr Johnson's actions had been aggravated by "repeated contempts and for seeking to undermine the parliamentary process". 

It spelled out that the breaches were "deliberately misleading the House", "deliberately misleading the Committee", "breaching confidence", "impugning the Committee and thereby undermining the democratic process of the House", and "being complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the Committee". 

The report added: "We recommend that he should not be entitled to a former Member's pass."

Mr Johnson, has always denied deliberately misleading MPs, but quit as an MP on Friday evening after receiving a draft version of the report.

The former Conservative leader's resignation means he will not serve the 90 day suspension which would have triggered a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.

Boris' allies Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams also quit sparking a massive headache for Rishi Sunak.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to the media outside Wembley Police Station in north west London.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to the media outside Wembley Police Station in north west London. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Read in Full: Boris Johnson's damning response to privileges committee report

Today, on a visit to Harrow Rishi Sunak desperately dodged questions about the row on a visit to Harrow this morning but suggested the government will not back Mr Johnson in a Commons debate on the report - which is pencilled in for Monday.