Boris insists he did not break ministerial code as Lord Geidt questions his Partygate fine

31 May 2022, 20:05 | Updated: 31 May 2022, 20:46

Boris Johnson has claimed his partygate fine "did not breach" the Ministerial Code as there was "no intent to break the law".
Boris Johnson has claimed his partygate fine "did not breach" the Ministerial Code as there was "no intent to break the law". Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Johnson's ethics adviser has suggested his Partygate fine may have broken the ministerial code.

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The Prime Minister was issued a fixed penalty notice (FPN) - along with his wife and Chancellor Rishi Sunak - over a birthday party thrown in his honour in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 - when indoor socialising was banned.

But in a letter to Lord Geidt, his independent adviser on the Ministerial Code, Mr Johnson said his judgment on why he did not break the rules for ministers included that there have been "past precedents of ministers who have unwittingly breached regulations where there was no intent to break the law".

In his latest annual report, Lord Geidt said a "legitimate question" had arisen as to whether the case of the FPN might have constituted a breach of the "overarching duty within the Ministerial Code of complying with the law".

Mr Johnson, in a letter released on Tuesday evening, said he had taken "full responsibility for everything that took place on my watch" in light of lockdown-busting gatherings in Downing Street and pointed to his House of Commons apology.

He reiterated there was "no intent to break the regulations", adding: "I did not consider that the circumstances in which I received a fixed penalty notice were contrary to the regulations.

"I have accepted the outcome and paid it in compliance with legal requirements. Paying a fixed penalty notice is not a criminal conviction."

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It comes after Carlisle MP John Stevenson became the 28th to publicly call for Boris Johnson to go hours after one-time ally Andrea Leadsom accused the battered PM of "unacceptable failures of leadership".

Mr Stevenson said he has been "deeply disappointed" in the rule-breaking parties at Number 10 and Mr Johnson's response to parliament.

He said he has called for the PM to put himself forward for a vote of confidence to "draw a line" under the issue but said Mr Johnson appears unwilling to, so he has "taken the appropriate action" to get a vote of confidence to take place.

The Prime Minister faces the threat of a no confidence vote as early as next week as a growing number of MP's submit letters of no-confidence in his regime.

Mr Johnson is attempting to draw a line under the Partygate scandal following Sue Gray's report which exposed repeated examples of lockdown-busting drinking sessions in Downing Street during the pandemic.

Read more: Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner receive police questionnaires over 'Beergate' scandal

Read more: Tory troubles for Boris: MP becomes number 28 to publicly call for him to resign

Supporters fear yet more Conservative MPs are set to submit letters demanding a confidence vote to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee. Once 54 are received, a secret ballot must be triggered.

Sir Graham Brady must call a vote of no confidence when 15 per cent of Conservative MPs ask for one - making the threshold 54. But he has broad discretion on when to announce the move and is not expected to do so when Parliament is in recess. In the past he has given Downing Street some advance notice.

Under party rules, if the PM sees off the challenge he cannot face another confidence vote for a year.

Which Tory MPs have publicly called for Boris Johnson to resign?

William Wragg - MP for Hazel Grove and Vice-Chairman of the 1922 Committee

Caroline Nokes - MP Romsey and Southampton North

Tim Loughton - MP for East Worthing

David Davis - MP for Haltemprice and Howden

Andrew Mitchell - MP for Royal Sutton Coldfield

Peter Aldous - MP for Waveney

Tobias Ellwood - chairman of the defence select committee and MP for Bournemouth East

Sir Gary Streeter - MP for South West Devon

Anthony Mangnall - MP for Totnes

Aaron Bell - MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme

Sir Nick Gibb - MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton

Craig Whittaker - MP for Calder Valley

Nigel Mills - MP for Amber Valley

Karen Bradley - MP for Staffordshire Moorlands

Mark Harper - MP for Forest of Dean

Steve Baker - MP for Wycombe

Sir Roger Gale - MP for North Thanet

Julian Sturdy – MP for York Outer

Angela Richardson – MP for Guildford

Steve Brine – MP for Winchester

David Simmonds - MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

John Baron - MP for Basildon and Billericay

Stephen Hammond - MP for Wimbledon

Alicia Kearns - MP for Rutland and Melton

Sir Bob Neill - MP for Bromley and Chislehurst

Anne Marie Morris - MP for Newton Abbot

Jeremy Wright - MP for Kenilworth and Southam

Elliot Colburn - MP for Carshalton and Wallington

Andrew Bridgen - MP for North West Leicestershire

John Stevenson - MP for Carlisle

*The list above is those who have publicly called for Boris Johnson to resign or submitted letters of no confidence*