Boris Johnson accepts he misled parliament over partygate – but says his statements were ‘in good faith’
Boris Johnson has said he accepts he misled parliament over partygate but insists his statements were “in good faith”.
In his evidence to the privileges committee, published on Tuesday, the former prime minister accused it of having gone “significantly beyond its terms of reference”.
He added that it was “unprecedented and absurd” to claim that relying on assurances from “trusted advisers” was “in some way reckless”.
The committee launched its probe in the wake of Sue Gray’s partygate report, which blamed a “failure of leadership and judgement” for the lockdown-busting parties that took place in No 10 during the COVID pandemic.
It offered a damning indictment of the culture that existed at the heart of government at a time when the rest of the country was ordered to follow strict social distancing guidelines.
Mr Johnson said he accepts the House of Commons “was misled by my statements that the rules and guidance had been followed completely at No. 10.
“But when the statements were made, they were made in good faith and on the basis of what I honestly knew and believed at the time,” he added.
For many MPs, the picture painted by Ms Gray’s report came in stark contrast to the previous assurances Mr Johnson had given about there being no rule-breaking in Downing Street.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer subsequently tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for an investigation into whether the-then prime minister had misled parliament, which MPs voted in favour of.
Mr Johnson conceded in his evidence that his statements to parliament “did not turn out to be correct”, but insisted he corrected the record at “the earliest opportunity”.
‘No evidence I intentionally misled the House’
He added: “There is no evidence at all that supports an allegation that I intentionally or recklessly misled the House.
“There is not a single document that indicates that I received any warning or advice that any event broke or may have broken the Rules or Guidance.”
In an interim report into its investigation published earlier this month, the committee said the evidence it had gathered “strongly suggests” it would have been “obvious” to Mr Johnson that COVID rules were being breached at Downing Street gatherings he attended.
It said it had identified at least four occasions where Mr Johnson may have misled MPs, which will form the backbone of its investigation.
The first instance was when Mr Johnson told MPs in December 2021 that no rules or guidance had been broken – when subsequent investigations by Ms Gray and the Met Police found otherwise.
The second occasion came when the former prime minister failed to tell the Commons about his own knowledge of gatherings where the rules or guidance had been broken, when evidence showed he had been present at some of them.
Thirdly, the committee said MPs may have been misled when Mr Johnson claimed on 8 December 2021 he had been given “repeated assurances” that rules were not broken.
However, these assurances only applied to one event on 18 December 2020 and not to compliance with the rules and guidance more generally.
Finally, the committee said Mr Johnson gave the impression that he could only answer MPs’ questions once the investigation by Ms Gray had determined whether rules or guidance had actually been broken.
“While repeatedly making that statement to the House he appears to have had personal knowledge he did not reveal,” the committee said.
As well as being required to be truthful to parliament at all times, MPs are also encouraged to correct the record at the earliest opportunity if they have inadvertently said something wrong.
The committee said in its interim findings that Mr Johnson “did not use the well-established procedures of the House” to correct the record, as is convention.
This Morning to return today after Phillip Schofield controversy – with Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary as presenters
This Morning will return to TV screens today, in the wake of the Phillip Schofield controversy.
Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary will present the ITV daytime show from 10am – the first time it has aired since ex-presenter Mr Schofield’s admitted an affair with a younger male colleague.
It also comes after former This Morning TV doctor, Ranj Singh, hit out at the “toxic culture” at the show.
Last Saturday, Schofield announced he would be leaving This Morning after 20 years at the helm following reports his relationship with co-host Holly Willoughby had become strained.
Less than a week later, on Friday, Schofield released a statement admitting an “unwise, but not illegal” affair with a “much younger man” and announced he was stepping down from ITV completely.
He also admitted he lied about the affair to ITV bosses, his agents and the media, resulting in the channel saying it was “deeply disappointed by the admissions of deceit” and his management company YMU Group dropping him.
ITV confirmed on Saturday they had investigated “rumours of a relationship” in 2020 but the pair repeatedly denied the affair.
Ms Willoughby said the admission was “very hurtful“.
On Sunday, Dr Ranj claimed he was managed out after taking his concerns about the “toxic culture” at This Morning to Emma Gormley, the head of ITV Daytime.
“I was on the show for 10 years and I genuinely loved and valued working there,” he said in a post on Twitter
“However, over time I grew increasingly worried about things behind the scenes and how people, including myself, were being treated.
“I didn’t know the truth about what was going on with Phillip, but I do know the issues with This Morning go far beyond him. It takes more than one person to create a culture.”
Dr Ranj said he “did what I thought was right” and made a complaint about This Morning editor Martin Frizzell’s behaviour, adding “especially given that my job is to look after people’s wellbeing and I had been heavily involved in diversity, anti-bullying and mental health projects across the channel”.
“I then found myself being used less and less,” he said.
“I even took my concerns directly to the top of ITV: the culture at This Morning had become toxic, no longer aligned with ITV values, and I felt like because I whistle-blew I was managed out.
“But as history and experience have taught us, things like bullying and discrimination are very hard to prove, particularly in hindsight and when the ‘people in power’ control the narrative. As we’ve seen, no review or investigation is foolproof.
“I haven’t worked on the show since… and I’m not the only one who has spoken up or experienced similar,” he added.
“That was two years ago and, frankly, it still hurts. The whole process was pretty heart-breaking and even affected my mental health. But I’m happy to say I’ve found my feet again, know my worth and have found my tribe.
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He continued: “There are some good people in TV, but we need to be brave and stand up to those who aren’t. Even if it’s scary as hell, we have to do the right thing otherwise nothing will change. I sincerely hope something good comes from all this.”
He also added in the post’s caption that “there is so much more” he could say.
ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo told Sky News on Sunday that “no mistakes” were made in the 2020 investigation while newspapers reported that the channel was considering axing the programme.
An ITV spokesperson said: “We are sorry to read Dr Ranj’s post today.
“At ITV we are fully committed to providing every opportunity for anyone who works with us to raise any concern or comments they may have.
“Following a complaint made by Dr Ranj, we appointed an external and independent advisor to carry out a review. This external review found no evidence of bullying or discrimination.”
Several television personalities including Denise van Outen, Laura Whitmore, Carol Vorderman and former Loose Women panellist Saira Khan left messages of support on his Instagram post with the same statement.
An ITV spokesperson earlier told Sky News they carried out an external review following a complaint made by Dr Ranj, and it “found no evidence to support the complaint of bullying”.
Dr Ranj starting working on This Morning in 2016 and now appears on BBC’s Morning Live.
Girl, 5, dies in house fire near Crymych, Pembrokeshire
A five-year-old girl has died after a house fire in Pembrokeshire.
Alysia Salisbury – who was described by her family as “a beautiful daughter and sister” – died at the scene of the blaze, Dyfed-Powys Police said.
Emergency crews were called to the fire in the Pontyglasier area, near Crymych, shortly before 10pm on Saturday.
Detective Chief Inspector Llyr Williams said: “Our thoughts are with the family and the local community at this tragic time.
“HM Coroner has been informed and officers will now work with colleagues from the fire service to establish the cause of the fire.
“The family request privacy at this difficult time.”
Read more from Sky News:
Two men in 20s die after being pulled from sea
ITV responds to This Morning axe rumours
Alysia’s family is being supported by specialist officers, police said.
The operation on Saturday evening involved fire crews from a wide area of West Wales, including Crymych, Cardigan, Newcastle Emlyn, Whitland and Fishguard.
Leicester City and Leeds United relegated from Premier League as Everton survive on dramatic final day
Leicester City and Leeds United have been relegated from the Premier League as Everton survived on a dramatic final day.
The Toffees secured safety with an 1-0 win over Bournemouth at Goodison Park. They remain one of six clubs to have never been relegated from the Premier League since its creation.
Leicester, who lifted the title only seven years ago, beat West Ham 2-1 at the King Power Stadium but it wasn’t enough to secure their survival due to Everton’s win.
Leeds went down 4-1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur.
Harry Kane got a brace but Spurs still miss out on European qualification.
Aston Villa will play in the Europa Conference League next season. They were 2-1 winners at home to Brighton.
Manchester City were previously announced as the winners of the Premier League. However, the champions suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat at Brentford.
Frank Lampard’s last game as Chelsea interim boss ended in a 1-1 draw to Newcastle.
Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest also finished 1-1.
Arsenal thrashed Wolves 5-0, Manchester United beat Fulham 2-1 and Southampton and Liverpool played out a thrilling 4-all draw.
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