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Boris Johnson 'interpreted COVID rules in heat of the moment' during Partygate, says minister

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·2 min read
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A government minister has defended Boris Johnson breaking COVID rules, saying the decision to do so was taken "in the heat of the moment".

The prime minister repeatedly apologised to MPs in the Commons on Tuesday after he was issued with a fixed penalty notice by police for breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

Business minister Paul Scully said the PM made the decision to attend events after Johnson "interpreted what he thought was the law and guidance at the time."

Speaking to Sky News, Scully said: "He took his decision in the heat of the moment, but he’s accepted he’s done wrong. He’s accepted he made a mistake and he’s made a full apology."

On Thursday, MPs are being given the chance to vote on whether the privileges committee should investigate whether Johnson mislead parliament.

Watch: Johnson faces barrage of criticism in Commons after apology over Partygate fines

But in a sign of how the government will try and keep Tory MPs on side and cut the motion short, Scully said there would be no need to open“another strand” into what went on.

Currently the Met Police is probing the extensive reports of parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, and a full report by senior civil servant Sue Gray has been conducted.

"Rather than start another strand at this point in time, I think we need to exhaust those processes," Scully added.

Scully said Johnson accepts he made a “mistake” when he attended a gathering in the Cabinet Room to mark his birthday during lockdown.

Scully told Sky News: “He (Johnson) accepts the police have found he broke the law.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks away after delivering a speech to members of the armed services and Maritime and Coastguard Agency at Lydd airport in Kent. Picture date: Thursday April 14, 2022.
Boris Johnson has refused to resign over the controversy. (PA)

“He took his decision (to attend the gathering) in the heat of the moment but he has accepted he has done wrong.

“He has accepted he made a mistake and he has made a full apology – 30 times. I don’t think anyone can really see that and think that he wasn’t contrite.”

Scully said any minister who broke the ministerial code would be expected to resign but that he did not believe that Johnson “knowingly” misled parliament when he told MPs he did not believe the rules had been broken.

“If someone breaks the ministerial code, that is the right thing to do (resign). In my opinion I don’t believe he did knowingly mislead parliament,” he said.