BORIS Johnson branded the Partygate probe’s conclusion “deranged” after MPs found him guilty of deliberately lying to the Commons — and sought to ban him from Parliament.
Boris Johnson branded the Partygate probe’s conclusion ‘deranged’, the ex-PM pictured on a run yesterday near his Oxfordshire home[/caption]
Johnson at a leaving do at No10 in 2020 during Covid restrictions[/caption]
The panel said that Boris:
- LIED on four separate occasions that Covid rules were followed at all times in No10;
- FAILED to tell the Commons about his own knowledge of gatherings where rules or guidance was broken;
- DID NOT get repeated “reassurances” from aides that the Covid rules hadn’t been broken;
- MADE it worse by being “disingenuous” when giving evidence to the MPs in six ways which amounted to lying.
The panel said he was “complicit” in a “campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the committee” — with punishments on the cards for his allies who attacked the panel.
MPs will vote on Monday over whether to ban Mr Johnson from holding a Parliamentary pass after he stole the committee’s thunder and quit last week.
Furious Johnson supporters accused the panel of being a “kangaroo court” involved in a “witch hunt” against the ex-PM.
Sir James Dudderidge MP said “History will hold Boris in higher regard than this committee.”
But the panel said 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”.
Mr Johnson went on the attack as soon as the dossier was published at 9am saying members “twisted the truth” and it was a “dreadful day for democracy”.
In a 1,700-word response he called the conclusions “deranged” and the probe a “charade”.
He added: “This decision means that no MP is free from vendetta, or expulsion on trumped up charges by a tiny minority who want to see him or her gone from the Commons.”
Mr Johnson — whose legal bill for the inquiry ran to £245,000 — had been sent initial report findings in which the committee provisionally concluded he deliberately misled the House and should be suspended — potentially triggering a by-election.
When he quit, he said there was “not a shred of evidence” to back up the panel’s conclusions.
The MPs said he undermined the Parliamentary process by speaking out and the further contempt would see him suspended for 90 days.
The committee was also provided with a new bundle of evidence from the Government last month relating to 16 new gatherings at both No10 and Chequers.
The diary entries were sent to the panel without prior notice as part of work for the ex-PM’s Covid Inquiry witness statement.
Mr Johnson hit back insisting each gathering was “reasonably necessary” for work purposes and guidance, such as the rule of six, was applied at all times.
In evidence released by the committee, one No10 worker said observing Covid rules was nothing more than a “pantomime”.
They said the security team sent notes to be mindful of TV cameras outside, not to go out in groups and to social distance.
A witness statement revealed that “Wine Time Fridays” continued in the building despite the onset of the pandemic with birthdays and leaving parties carrying on as normal.
Downing Street said the panel was a “properly constituted committee carrying out work at the behest of Parliament”.
MPs will have a free vote on the committee’s report on Monday — Boris’ 59th birthday.
His official spokesman said: ‘”He hasn’t yet had time to fully consider the report. He does in- tend to take the time to do that”.
Nadine Dorries, whose peerage was rejected, has called for anyone who votes against Johnson to be kicked out the party.
Ally Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said Johnson will ultimately lose the vote because of the Opposition, adding “you also have the Boris haters in the Conservative Party”.
A by-election in Mr Johnson’s Uxbridge constituency in West London will be held on July 20.
MPs will have a free vote on the committee’s report on Monday[/caption]
BORIS: VERDICT RUBBISH & A LIE
By Jack Elsom and Harry Cole
THESE are the five key findings of the Privileges Committee, and former PM Boris Johnson’s responses.
FINDING 1: Boris knowingly misled MPs over Partygate.
The nub of the 108-page report is that Boris Johnson deliberately misled MPs when he claimed no rules were broken in No10.
The Committee says he misled the Commons in five ways.
BORIS SAYS: “This is rubbish. It is a lie. To reach this deranged conclusion, the committee is obliged to say a series of things that are patently absurd, or contradicted by the facts.”
FINDING 2: Mr Johnson must have seen the press office Christmas party as he walked past the stairs.
BORIS SAYS: “Perhaps the craziest assertion of all is the committee’s Mystic Meg claim that I saw the December 18 event.
“They say, without any evidence, that at 21.58 on that date, my eyes for a crucial second glanced over to the media room as I went up to the flat — and I saw what I recognised as an unauthorised event in progress.
“First, the committee has totally ignored the general testimony about that evening, which is that people were working throughout, even if some had been drinking at their desks.
“How on earth do these clairvoyants know exactly what was going on at 21.58? How do they know what I saw? What retinal impressions have they somehow discovered that are completely unavailable to me?
“I saw no goings on at all in the press room, or none that I can remember, certainly nothing illegal.”
FINDING 3: Mr Johnson has “closed his mind to the truth”.
During their 14-month inquiry, the MPs accuse Mr Johnson of making “denials and explanations so disingenuous that they were by their very nature deliberate attempts to mislead the committee and the House”. This amounted to having “closed his mind to the truth”.
BORIS SAYS: “The committee now says that I deliberately misled the House, and at the moment I spoke I was consciously concealing from the House my knowledge of illicit events.
“But don’t just listen to me. Take it from the Metropolitan Police. They investigated my role at all of those events. In no case did they find that what I’d done was unlawful.
“Above all, it did not cross my mind — as I spoke in the House of Commons — that the events were unlawful.”
FINDING 4: Ninety-day Commons suspension.
Had Mr Johnson not resigned as an MP, the recommended sanction would have been a 90-day Commons suspension.
The committee says it originally decided on a sanction strong enough to trigger a by-election — ten days minimum — but chose to drastically upgrade this when he accused it of a “witch hunt”.
BORIS SAYS: “This report is a charade. I was wrong to believe in the committee or its good faith. The terrible truth is that it is not I who has twisted the truth to suit my purposes — it is Harriet Harman and her committee.
“This is a dreadful day for MPs and for democracy.
“This decision means that no MP is free from vendetta or expulsion on trumped up charges by a tiny minority who want to see him or her gone from the Commons.”
FINDING 5: Mr Johnson may have his ex-MP pass blocked.
The committee wants him to lose his former MP parliamentary pass in light of his statements attacking the findings.
Former Speaker John Bercow had this sanction applied last year for bullying.
BORIS SAYS: “I do not have the slightest contempt for Parliament, or for the important work that should be done by the Privileges Committee.
“But for the Privileges Committee to use its prerogatives in this anti-democratic way, to bring about what is intended to be the final knife-thrust in a protracted political assassination — that is beneath contempt.
“It is for the people of this country to decide who sits in Parliament, not Harriet Harman.”