UK committee rules ex-PM Boris Johnson deliberately misled parliament

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A U.K. parliamentary committee has found that former U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson intentionally misled parliament over illegal Covid-19 lockdown parties held during his tenure.

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Former U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson intentionally misled parliament over illegal Covid-19 lockdown parties held during his tenure, a parliamentary committee said Thursday, describing it as “serious contempt.”

The damning verdict of the privilege committee’s long-awaited “partygate” report found that Johnson had willfully deceived parliament several times when probed about Downing Street parties that occurred on his watch and broke his own lockdown rules.

“We conclude that in deliberately misleading the House, Mr Johnson committed a serious contempt,” the findings of the cross-party committee showed.

“There is no precedent for a Prime Minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House,” it added.

The 100-page report, which investigated six gatherings held at the prime minister’s official residence at the time of the U.K.’s most stringent Covid restrictions, also concluded that Johnson was complicit in a “campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation” to disguise the circumstances of those events.

The committee, which consists of members of both the ruling Conservative Party and opposition Labour Party, recommended that Johnson should not be entitled to a former Member’s pass, which allows MPs to access parliament.

It also said that, if Johnson were still a member of parliament, he should be suspended from the House for 90 days. Johnson resigned as a Conservative MP last week after seeing an advanced copy of the report. At the time, he accused the cross-party committee of behaving like a “kangaroo court” conducting a “political hit job” against him.

Rubbing, absurd, deranged

In a further statement Thursday, he dubbed the findings “rubbish,” “absurd” and “deranged,” according to Perspective magazine and the Telegraph. The ex-prime minister, a fervent Brexiteer, also accused the committee of “prejudicial views,” saying that a majority of members “voted remain” in the 2016 Brexit vote.

“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,” he wrote.

“This is rubbish. It is a lie. In order to reach this deranged conclusion, the committee is obliged to say a series of things that are patently absurd, or contradicted by the fact.”

MPs responsible for producing the report described Johnson’s comments as a blow against U.K. democratic institutions.

“This attack on a committee carrying out its remit from the democratically elected House itself amounts to an attack on our democratic institutions,” the committee said.

The privilege committee’s findings will be discussed by MPs on Monday, leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt said.

The report follows an earlier police investigation into Downing Street’s lockdown parties, which resulted in fines for both Johnson and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Revelations of Johnson’s involvement in rule-breaking parties was just one of several scandals to beset his premiership and ultimately lead to his resignation last July. However, his flouting of public health measures was seen as particularly jarring at a time when Britons were distancing from loved ones to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking on the committee’s findings, the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK group said it was “another grim reminder” of how Johnson broke his own rules “so he could have a party and a laugh” while other families “were saying goodbye to loved ones over Zoom.”

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