A panel of lawmakers said on Thursday after a year-long investigation that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament about parties breaching the ban, undermining its credibility and contributing to its downfall.
A scathing report by the House of Commons Privileges Committee concluded that Johnson’s actions were a clear breach of rules that warrant a 90-day suspension from Parliament. Although there has been an indictment of the former prime minister’s conduct, the recommendation is largely symbolic as Johnson angrily resigned as MP on Friday after the commission found him aware of its findings.
Johnson, 58, described the committee last week as a “kangaroo court” that had conducted a “witch-hunt” to remove him from Parliament. The majority of the seven committee members are from Johnson’s Conservative Party.
The report is the latest piece in a ‘Partygate’ scandal that has distracted lawmakers since local media revealed that Johnson’s staff held a series of parties in 2020 and 2021 when such gatherings were banned due to pandemic restrictions. The full House of Commons will now debate the committee’s report and decide whether it agrees with the committee’s findings and recommended penalties.
This is an urgent update. Below is the former AP’s story.
LONDON (AP) – Lawmakers are expected to release a long-awaited report Thursday into whether former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson knowingly misled Parliament about parties flouting COVID-lockdown measures in his Downing Street office.
Parliament’s Privileges Committee spent 14 months investigating Johnson’s behavior across the ‘party gate’, a series of raucous rallies in his office that breached his government’s tough COVID-19 restrictions on the country.
Johnson, 58, angrily resigned from his deputy on Friday after being told by the committee in advance that he would be disciplined. He described the seven-member panel – which includes members of the Conservative and opposition parties – as a “kangaroo court” and accused political opponents of throwing him out in a “witch-hunt”.
On Wednesday, a day before the report was released, Johnson also called on the committee’s longest-serving Conservative member, Bernard Jenkin, to resign over allegations he had flouted pandemic restrictions.
Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, said the move was “Boris Johnson’s distraction tactic that doesn’t change the fact that he broke the law and lied about it”.
If it is discovered that he lied and disrespected Parliament, Johnson would be suspended from the House of Commons. A suspension of 10 days or more meant that Johnson’s constituents in his suburban London seat could seek to remove him and elect a new MP.
Johnson’s decision to withdraw from Parliament means he can no longer be suspended, and his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seats will be contested at a special election next month.
Johnson and his wife Carrie were fined by the Metropolitan Police last year for breaching COVID laws at a birthday party for Johnson at his Downing Street residence and office in June 2020.
Outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was also among dozens who received fixed sanction notices for a series of office parties and “Fridays with wine” in 2020 and 2021 at government buildings.
The revelations of the alcohol-fueled gatherings, which took place at a time when millions were forbidden to see their loved ones or even attend family funerals, outraged many Britons and sparked a series of moral scandals that brought Johnson down. Johnson resigned as prime minister last summer after an exodus of government officials protesting his leadership.
Johnson acknowledged misleading lawmakers when he assured them no rules were being broken, but insisted he did not do it on purpose.
In March, he told the committee that he “sincerely believed” that the five gatherings he attended, including an employee farewell party and a surprise birthday party, were “legitimate work gatherings” meant to boost morale of staff piled high in the face of life. Threatened crisis. Epidemic.
He also said that “trusted advisors” had assured him that neither legally binding rules nor government guidelines related to the coronavirus had been breached.