Stinging rebuke from Speaker over Boris Johnson's Jimmy Savile slur in Commons

1 February 2022, 12:52

House Speaker rebukes PM after Savile jibe at Starmer

By Asher McShane

Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle delivered a stinging rebuke to Boris Johnson after he repeated a disproved claim Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

Mr Johnson repeated a discredited claim in the Commons yesterday that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

Sir Lindsay said in the Commons today: "I will seek not to intervene unless something is said which is disorderly. Procedurally, nothing disorderly occurred.

"But such allegations should not be made lightly. I am far from satisfied that the comments in question were appropriate on this occasion.

"I want to see more compassionate, reasonable politics in this house."

Read more: Partygate cops wade through 300 photos as PM holds off leadership threat

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab refused to repeat the allegation levelled at the Labour leader by Mr Johnson in the Commons yesterday.

Sir Keir described the claim as a "ridiculous slur peddled by right-wing trolls" and claimed Mr Johnson had "debased" himself by saying it.

Mr Raab, the Justice Secretary, said he was "certainly not repeating it" during a broadcast interview, without the protection of parliamentary privilege.

But Tory former Cabinet minister Julian Smith said the Prime Minister should withdraw the "false and baseless" smear.

Sir Keir was director of public prosecutions from 2008 to 2013, but is not thought to have been involved in decisions relating to sexual offence allegations against disgraced entertainer Savile.

In the Commons on Monday, as he battled to defend himself from the partygate row, Mr Johnson claimed Sir Keir "used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile".

Mr Smith, a former chief whip, said: "The smear made against Keir Starmer relating to Jimmy Savile yesterday is wrong and cannot be defended. It should be withdrawn.

"False and baseless personal slurs are dangerous, corrode trust and can't just be accepted as part of the cut and thrust of parliamentary debate."

Sir Keir told Sky News: "It is a ridiculous slur peddled by right-wing trolls... this is where I saw the faces of the Conservative MPs, the disgust on their faces that their Prime Minister was debasing himself by sinking so low in the Chamber was clear.

"They knew that he was going so low with that slur, with that lie - he had been advised not to do it because it's obviously not true, but he does it because he doesn't understand what honesty and integrity means."