Boris Johnson erupts at ‘complete nonsense’ in Partygate grilling
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Boris Johnson has accused the privileges committee of excluding evidence central to his defence case. Lawyers acting for the former prime minister are understood to be writing a letter to the committee, demanding it makes the documents publicly available. This came after it published a 110-page evidence bundle, which allies of the former PM claimed did not include details he considers “central” to his case.
Allies of Mr Johnson also told the Telegraph that they believe the panel of MPs misunderstood some aspects of Covid restrictions.
They believe the committee confused guidance with lockdown rules when it grilled him for nearly 4 hours on Wednesday.
The Privileges Committee is attempting to decide whether or not the former Prime Minister “recklessly” or “knowingly” misled the House of Commons over illegal parties held in Downing Street during lockdown.
While Mr Johnson has accepted he misled the Commons with his Partygate denials, he said he did not do so “recklessly”.
The MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip claimed he made his denials to Parliament “in good faith” on the advice of his officials, which he now concedes turned out to be wrong.
The committee pointed to comments made by its chair, Harriet Harman, who said the evidence Mr Johnson wants publishing would need to come with a new statement of truth from the witnesses involved.
A House of Commons spokesperson told the Telegraph: “The committee will make decisions on further publication of evidence in due course”.
Suggesting the former Prime Minister will not accept the verdict of the probe, a source close to him said: “We will study the committee’s findings when they bring them forward”.
Last night, Nadine Dorries – a close ally of Mr Johnson – launched a furious criticism of the Committee on her Talk TV programme.
She claimed they are set on finding him guilty, regardless of the evidence.
The MP for Mid Bedfordshire said: “I don’t think there was ever a world in which this committee was going to find Boris innocent.
“The committee have demonstrated very clearly that they have decided early on to find him guilty.”
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Meanwhile, Marco Longhi, Conservative MP for Dudley North, claimed the committee asked questions which were “designed to attack Boris as a person” during its four-hour grilling yesterday, describing it as a “witch hunt”.
Mr Longhi questioned the committee’s motives, telling the Daily Express: “I think many of the questions asked were designed to attack Boris as a person rather than to seek out if he’d behaved reasonably and followed due process – which was proven.
“I was particularly annoyed when he was asked if having a ‘farewell gathering’ was in the guidance.
“How utterly ridiculous and it shows the personal venom some MPs hold against Boris. It was a witch hunt.”
The MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip swore on the Bible to tell the truth before issuing an apology at the start of Wednesday’s hearing.
He told the Committee: “I’m here to say to you, hand on heart, I did not lie to the House.”
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