Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged that it led to deceit to Parliament about him “partygate”, the parties on Downing Street during the pandemic, when in his day he said that the anti-covid rules were complied with, although he did “in good faith”.
The Committee on Privileges of the House of Commons, which is investigating whether Johnson lied to the Lower House, made public this Tuesday the written testimony that the legal team of the former head of Government delivered yesterday, before this Wednesday he appears before that commission.
“I did not intentionally or recklessly mislead the House on December 1, 2021, December 8, 2021 or any other date. He would never have dreamed of doing it,” Johnson says in his testimony.
“I accept that the House of Commons was misled by my statements that the rules had been fully followed at 10 (Downing Street). But when the statements were made, were made in good faith and based on what I honestly knew and believed at the time,” he added.
In publishing his testimony today, the committee made it clear that it “does not contain any new documentary evidence.”
Johnson left power on September 6 as a result of that scandal and after the official Sue Gray released her independent report on “partygate”, in which she criticized parties and the excessive culture of alcohol in the official residence.
“Of course it’s true that my statements to Parliament that the (anticovid) rules had been followed at all times did not turn out to be correct, and I take this opportunity to apologize to the House for that“, said.
Johnson’s appearance tomorrow -scheduled for 14 GMT- has created expectation since its political future may depend on the conclusions reached by the deputies of the committee.
In case they establish that Johnson lied knowingly, the deputies of the committee can recommend that he be suspended from the Lower House, of which he is a part as a parliamentarian for the constituency of Uxbridge (northwest London).
In an interim report, the committee recently said current evidence suggests the anti-Covid breaches at Downing Street were “obvious” to Johnson.
The inquiry is chaired by Labor MP Harriet Harman, although the panel of seven committee members has a Conservative majority.
In a country with more than 220,000 deaths from COVID, the second highest death toll in Europe only behind Russia, the association of families of the victims denounced Tuesday as “obvious” that Johnson knowingly lied to Parliament and insisted that he should resign as deputy.
“But far worse are the lies deliberately told to bereaved families, after failing to protect our loved ones. His claim that he did it in ‘good faith’ is disgusting,” he said in a statement.
In a preliminary report released in early March, the commission said the evidence it had gathered “strongly suggests” that the anti-Covid violations should have been “obvious” to Johnson.
But this tuesday the former prime minister blamed his advisers who, he said, had assured him that no rule had been broken. “I was focused on difficult decisions related to the pandemic (as well as other issues that the prime minister must address), my schedule was packed, number 10 is a complex environment and I was constantly in and out of the building,” he explained.
“A prime minister cannot be expected to personally investigate matters like these.. I had to, and had every right to, trust what my trusted advisers were telling me.”, he added.
Former Conservative leader and current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunakthen his finance minister, were fined by police for attending a brief birthday celebration for Johnson in the cabinet room.
In a steady trickle over several months, a series of revelations about these parties, many drenched in alcohol and other excesses, outraged the British public.
(With information from EFE and AFP)
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