Boris Johnson’s private communications chief admitted there was a “huge hole” in the Partigit account | Pro IQRA News

Boris Johnson’s private communications chief admitted there was a “huge hole” in the Partigit account

 | Pro IQRA News

Pro IQRA News Updates.

Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure over the Partigit scandal after a new report said it could have been the “clear” events he attended at No. 10 that breached Covid restrictions.

A parliamentary inquiry found that the former prime minister may have misled the House of Commons about closing parties in Downing Street on four occasions.

But an exasperated Mr Johnson insisted the inquest had turned up “absolutely no evidence” that he had committed any contempt of Parliament.

Among the revelations, the interim report from the inter-party Commons Privileges Committee found:

  • His chief of communications admitted there was a “huge hole” in the Prime Minister’s account to Partygate
  • Johnson could see the infamous party spot from under the stairs to his Downing Street flat
  • A No. 10 official said a colleague was “concerned about the PM’s leaks and is resentful, and to be fair, I don’t think that’s unwarranted.”
  • There was a “reluctance” on the part of the government to provide the committee with uncorroborated evidence when Johnson was still prime minister, which has stalled its investigation

The report was released as the committee announced a confrontation with Mr Johnson over the allegations later this month, and called him to appear as a witness before MPs.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said the evidence of wrongdoing in the report was “extremely overwhelming”.

But he also accused Rishi Sunak of being “too close to all this” and of sitting “on his hands”. The prime minister has been fined by police for attending Mr Johnson’s birthday rally.

Labor deputy leader Angela Reiner also called on Mr Sunak to “stop supporting the disgraced prime minister and his legal defense fund – and make clear that if he is proven to have misled parliament again and again, his career will be over”.

The government signed a taxpayer-funded statutory support to Johnson during the Privileges Commission investigation worth at least £210,000.

Even ardent allies of Johnson admit his hopes of a return as prime minister depend on him getting through the commission’s investigation. Johnson said the report showed he had been “vindicated” for raising concerns about civil service investigator Sue Gray moving to Sir Keir Starmer’s office.

But the committee insisted its investigation was “not based on the Sue Gray report” in Partigit but on evidence from witnesses, WhatsApp and emails as well as photographs from a Downing Street photographer.

Evidence in the 24-page report included letters between then Downing Street communications director Jack Doyle and Number 10 official discussing a Christmas gathering, for which Johnson was fined by the police.

This past January, Doyle wrote, “I’m struggling to come up with a way to have this way of grammar in my head.”

In response to the suggestion that the event be described as “reasonably necessary for business purposes”, he said: “I’m not sure the person is working? You also hit another big hole in the prime minister’s account, didn’t you?”

In another exchange, the No. 10 official said another civil servant was “concerned about the PM’s post-law leaks and to be fair, I don’t think that’s unwarranted.”

The report warns: “The evidence strongly suggests that violations of the directive were apparent to Johnson at the time he was at the rallies.”

He also said there was evidence “that those who were advising Mr Johnson on what to say to the press and in the House of Representatives were themselves struggling to assert that some assemblies were within the rules”.

Responding to the report, Johnson said that an investigation into whether he had lied to MPs by denying Partiget’s party showed that he “had committed no contempt of Parliament”.

Boris Johnson (R) at a gathering to celebrate his birthday – where cake and alcohol were served – in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street, London, when rules were in place to prevent the spread of Covid

(cabinet office / PA)

The committee said it would look into why the former prime minister told MPs that no directive had been broken “when he knew what the directive was and was present at assemblies where the directive was breached”. And it will examine his claims in December 2021 that “all guidelines were followed exactly at No. 10” and “the guidelines were followed and the rules were followed at all times.”

The committee will also consider “why he failed to inform the House of Representatives of the rallies at which he was present.”

Significantly, he said that although Mr. Johnson said he had received repeated assurances that no rules had been broken, “the evidence is that the assurance … was taken primarily from a line to be taken by the Director of Communications at No. 10.”

It was also “in response to a media inquiry about specific gatherings rather than … a general assertion … that no guidelines or rules were violated at No. 10.”

The committee also criticized the government, saying that after it requested “relevant materials” on July 14 last year, on August 24 it received “documents so heavily redacted that they are devoid of any evidentiary value”.

“Some of the material was revised even though it was already in the public domain,” the report said. The unredacted disclosure of all relevant material was finally submitted by Mr Sunak’s government on 18 November.

Mr. Johnson will testify before the committee the week of March 20th. The exact date and time of the session, which will be held in public and broadcast live, has not yet been announced.

He was also invited to submit written evidence to the Committee prior to the session.