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Boris Johnson purposely lied to Parliament over ‘partygate’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Last day

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would have faced a 90-day suspension as a Member of Parliament, following an enquiry that concluded he had deliberately lied to Parliament regarding lockdown parties. The investigation found him guilty of repeated offenses relating to his denials of the ‘partygate’ scandal.

In a highly critical report, Members of Parliament highlighted the seriousness of Mr Johnson’s actions. The recommended suspension by the Priviledges Committee would have triggered a recall petition and potentially led to a by-election if he had not already resigned as an MP.

The former PM’s resignation came shortly after the committee’s findings were revealed, confirming a dramatic turn of events. Notably, the former PM becomes the first to be found guilty of deliberately lying to Parliament, despite leading the Conservative Party to a significant electoral victory just three years prior.

Here is Boris Johnson’s resignation statement in full:

I have received a letter from the Privileges Committee making it clear – much to my amazement – that they are determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of Parliament. 

They have still not produced a shred of evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons. 

They know perfectly well that when I spoke in the Commons, I was saying what I believed sincerely to be true and what I had been briefed to say, like any other minister. They know that I corrected the record as soon as possible; and they know that I and every other senior official and minister – including the current Prime Minister and then occupant of the same building, Rishi Sunak – believed that we were working lawfully together. 

I have been an MP since 2001. I take my responsibilities seriously. I did not lie, and I believe that in their hearts, the Committee know it. But they have wilfully chosen to ignore the truth, because from the outset, their purpose has not been to discover the truth, or genuinely to understand what was in my mind when I spoke in the Commons. 

Their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts. This is the very definition of a kangaroo court. 

Most members of the Committee – especially the chair – had already expressed deeply prejudicial remarks about my guilt before they had even seen the evidence. They should have recused themselves. 

Boris Johnson, ex PM

During his appearance before the committee in March, Mr Johnson strongly denied intentionally lying to parliament, leading to a tense encounter.

However, in a comprehensive 106-page report, the committee determined that Boris Johnson’s ‘personal knowledge of breaches’ and his failure to actively investigate them constituted a deliberate disregard for the facts.

The investigation focused on six gatherings that took place between May 2020 and January 2021, as well as the former PM’s statements made in parliament with regards to these events.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Leaving No.10 Downing Street
Prime Minister Boris Johnson Leaving No.10 Downing Street

The committee concluded that despite his claims in the House of Commons, officials did not advise him that social distancing guidelines were consistently followed during these gatherings.

Of particular significance was the testimony of Martin Reynolds, one of Boris Johnson’s top-ranking officials, admitting he advised his boss against asserting that all guidelines had been adhered to at all times, casting doubt on the plausibility of such a claim.

The findings into Boris Johnson’s conduct are detailed as followed:

  • Lying to the House of Commons
  • Lying to the committee
  • Breaching confidence
  • Impugning the committee and thereby undermining democratic process of the House
  • Being complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the committee

Due to these issues, the committee recommended Boris Johnson should be banned from accessing the Parliament. Two MPs wanted more justice wanting the ex PM to be expelled from the HOC.

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