Live

Covid inquiry as it happened: Ex-PM Boris Johnson says he 'could not have done more' to stop lockdown-busting parties

7 December 2023, 08:14 | Updated: 7 December 2023, 17:23

Boris Johnson giving evidence at the Covid inquiry
Boris Johnson giving evidence at the Covid inquiry. Picture: Covid inquiry

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson told the Covid inquiry on his final day of giving evidence that ‘people want to see everybody obeying the same rules’.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Giving evidence on the second and final day of his hearing, Johnson said there needed to be less of a reliance on ‘regulation and legislation’ and more of a focus on ‘common sense’.

Mr Johnson added that people ‘want their neighbours to do what they’re doing.’

He also defended the Eat Out to Help Out scheme as he started day two of his evidence.

Listen to Boris Johnson's full evidence at the Covid Inquiry live on Global Player, the official LBC app

See all the developments from the former PM's hearing below

Key Updates:

Thank you for following along with LBC's coverage of the Covid inquiry

Join us again on Monday as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to give evidence at 10am. 

Read the latest:

Boris Johnson tells Covid Inquiry he 'could not have done more' to stop Downing Street parties

Johnson leaves Covid Inquiry

Following a two-day hearing, Boris Johnson has left the Covid Inquiry. 

Johnson 'sad' as Covid Inquiry ends

Johnson's time at the Covid Inquiry comes to and end and he is thanked for his time. 

Baroness Hallett says she knows "how hard it must be to have two days giving evidence". 

But the former PM replied: "No, I'm rather sad that it's over."

He then gives some final thoughts, saying that while it is outside of the Covid Inquiry's responsibility, there is a need to understand where the virus originated from. 

He also urged the Government to think more about health and social care.

Domestic abuse victims should have been given more consideration, Johnson admits

Asked why domestic abuse was not cited as a reason to leave home during lockdown in January 2021, Johnson said: "I think you're making a very good point and I think, in retrospect, we should have given consideration to mentioning that issue explicitly earlier.

"That didn't mean we were silent or inattentive to the problem." 

Johnson continued: "I hope that people would've understood that to report a criminal offence was also a reason to leave your home, but clearly it was something we should've made explicit."

Johnson also said he does not remember Priti Patel raising the need to refer to domestic abuse victims in public statments.

Johnson denies being 'shamefully ageist' against elderly

Johnson is now quizzed by Danny Friedman KC from the Disabled People Organisations.

It was previously reported that Johnson said the elderly should "accept their fate" as he debated "letting the virus rip".

He is asked by Friedman: "Were you not being shamefully ageist against those in later life and normalising their premature death?"

Johnson denies the accusation, claiming a number of elderly people agreed with him.

Only UK Govt should have announced Covid rules

Johnson has moved to criticise 'mixed messaging' that occurred after leaders from devolved administrations held their own press conferences. 

While press conferences from the UK Govt were most popular, Nicola Sturgeon also frequently hosted her own. 

It should be up to the UK Govt to announce all rules in any future pandemics, Johnson told the Inquiry. 

Johnson: Govt had 'excellent' communication with devolved administrations

Johnson has rejected the suggestion there was a "high-handed, incommunicative approach from Westminster" in the pandemic, insisting the Government had "excellent communications" with the devolved nations of the UK. 

 The former prime minister did however accept that there had been "blurred" messaging on occasion because of "a succession of press conferences from different parts of the UK". 

Johnson said there had sometimes been "a dissonance in the message" when ideally there would have been "complete coherence". 

 "I think we had excellent communications across all of the DAs (devolved administrations)" he said. 

"And I think that the overall performance of the UK in the pandemic as a single entity was remarkable, and every part of the UK played an important part in the effort. 

 "If you look at it, there was a huge amount of joined up work going on across the whole country." 

Focus shifts to devolved administrations

Johnson is now asked what he thought about England and Wales acting differently in implementing restrictions. 

In October and November 2020, Wales imposed a 'firebreak' lockdown. England did not. 

"I'm sure we were thinking the whole time about the choice between firebreak lockdowns and intensifying tiering and all the other stuff we have discussed today," he said.

"That might have meant England and Wales working together, or it might have not.

"I think it was striking that we ended up pretty much doing the same sort of thing. 

"I think that it was an illustration of how the UK... tended to move more in step than sometimes the politics seem to suggest."

Boris Johnson and his Grimsby Town FC bobble hat

Boris Johnson has been seen sporting a Grimsby Town bobble hat to the Covid Inquiry - but no-one really knows why as he has no connection to the club.

Mr Johnson was born in New York and spent his childhood near Oxford, before spending most of his life in London.

He has often been seen wearing the GTFC bobble hat - even though he’s never been seen at a Grimsby Town game.

He was asked by Grimsby Live in 2022 why he had the bobble hat. He responded: “It’s what I grab when I run out the house. There’s no particular science to it.”

He added: “It’s a very good hat. It’s lovely and warm. What I like most is that it comes down and covers my ears.”

Johnson says he 'could not have done more' to stop Downing Street parties

As the inquiry gets back under way, Boris Johnson is asked why he didn't do more to stop parties from taking place at 10 Downing Street. 

"I think that the trouble was, as I said, that people were working extremely hard in tough circumstances," he told the inquiry.

"Could you have done more to stop it?" he is then asked.

The former prime minister said: "Given what I knew at the time about what was going on, the answer to that is no."

Johnson admitted he maybe could have told staff to be more "mindful of the rules and how things would appear".

You can read more here.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Hungarian parliament

Hungary’s parliament votes to ratify Sweden’s application to join Nato

St. Vincent Grenada Hijacked Yacht

Hijackers threw elderly couple overboard after capturing yacht, police say

Fawziyah Javed (l) and Kashif Anwar (r)

The woman who caught her own killer: Pregnant lawyer's last words helped jail murderer who pushed her off cliff

Breaking
Three Just Stop Oil protesters have been found guilty of aggressive trespass after disrupting a Wimbledon tennis match

Three Just Stop Oil protesters found guilty of aggravated trespass after disrupting Wimbledon tennis matches

Father Felice Palamara was presiding over Mass in the small town of Cessaniti, Calabria, in the southern region of Italy when he noticed an acrid smell coming from the wine

Priest handed poisoned chalice after mafia hitman spikes holy communion wine with bleach

Passengers told 'do not travel' amid train delays and cancellations after 'major signalling fault' strikes the South East

Chaos on the trains: Rush-hour passengers face severe delays after landslip grinds services to a halt

WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Global economy weighed down by war, uncertainty and instability, says WTO chief

Donald Trump and his lawyers

Trump to appeal against £350m judgment made against him in fraud lawsuit

Damaged buildings seen after Russian forces completed their takeover of Avdiivka

Ukrainian troops pull back again amid Russia’s onslaught in east of country

Tunisian Imam Mahjoub Mahjoubi speaks at his home in the town of Soliman, February 23

Imam deported from France after labelling tricolore flag 'satanic' despite living in the country for 40 years

Cat killer Scarlet Blake, 26, has been jailed for life.

Trans killer who had 'obsession with death' jailed for life for murdering stranger as he walked home from night out

Lord Jacob Rothschild

Financier and banking dynasty member Lord Jacob Rothschild dies aged 87

Gerard Depardieu

French actor Gerard Depardieu faces another sexual assault complaint

A Lebanese army vehicle blocks a road leading to a warehouse which was destroyed by Israeli air strikes

Israel’s air force attacks Hezbollah targets ‘deep inside Lebanon’

George Harrison with Pattie Boyd (l) and Eric Clapton (r)

Inside rock's greatest love triangle: Model Pattie Boyd lifts lid on leaving George Harrison for Eric Clapton

Michael Holt, 54, from the Wirral, was found dead in the boat 700 miles into the charity challenge off the coast of Cape Verde, west Africa

British father found dead in his boat four weeks into 3,000-mile charity rowing challenge across the Atlantic