Boris Johnson Partygate: What happened and why is he being investigated?

22 March 2023, 10:57 | Updated: 22 March 2023, 11:00

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson will stand before the committee and defend himself against Partygate allegations. Picture: Alamy

By Zoe Adams

A recap on what former prime minister Boris Johnson is being accused of and what Partygate really means.

Boris Johnson will today, Wednesday 22nd March, find himself in front of the Privileges Committee battling accusations made against him during his time as prime minister during the coronavirus pandemic.

Set to determine his future as an MP and in politics altogether, Boris is being put on trial for allegations that he misled Parliament over the Partygate scandal that rocked the government in 2021 and 2022.

The trial, which will be televised, will be looking at whether parties held in Downing Street, during strict Covid-19 lockdown rules, led to contempt of Parliament.

Read more: Read it in full: Boris Johnson's Partygate defence revealed

Read more: Boris Johnson 'looking forward' to Partygate grilling and claims 'not a shred of evidence' he knowingly misled MPs

So why is it called Partygate? And what is Boris Johnson being investigated over? Here's a full recap.

Boris Johnson's wearing a blue tie outside
Boris Johnson's future political career depends on the outcome of his Partygate trial at Parliament. Picture: Alamy

What exactly is Partygate and what happened?

In December 2021, a video leaked of a mock press conference, filmed in 2019, that saw senior members of the government joking about holding a Christmas party - an event that would not have been allowed at the time due to strict Covid lockdown rules.

Boris apologised for the video and the offence it caused, but denied there was a Downing Street Christmas party.

However, that was not the end of the allegations as even more reports of parties surfaced in the months that followed, with Mr Johnson continuing to deny he was aware of any rule breaking.

In April 2022, evidence was discovered that Covid laws were broken, and police handed out fines to those involved, including the former PM.

Caller refuses to believe Boris Johnson's gatherings at No.10 should be labelled as 'parties'

Why is Boris Johnson being investigated over Partygate now?

Boris has been accused by opposition parties that he mislead MPs by saying he was unaware of the parties happening at Number 10.

The Commons Privileges Committee was commission by the Commons in April 2022 to examine the case further and today he will be stand up and address the case.

Johnson has admitted that MPs were misled by his statements but stands by the fact he believed them to be true at the time. He claims his denials about rule-breaking were made in "good faith".

What could happen to Boris Johnson?

If the committee agree that Boris Johnson misled MPs, the full House of Commons will have to approve their recommendation along with the suggested punishment.

This could range from issuing an apology to suspending him from the Commons.