Boris Johnson says papers central to clearing his name missing from partygate dossier

·3 min read
Boris Johnson - Kirsty O'Connor/PA
Boris Johnson - Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Boris Johnson has accused the privileges committee of excluding evidence he is relying on to clear his name over partygate.

The Telegraph understands that Mr Johnson’s lawyers are writing a letter to the seven-strong committee of MPs challenging its decision not to make the documents publicly available.

A 110-page evidence bundle published by the committee, which is investigating whether the former prime minister deliberately misled Parliament over lockdown gatherings in Downing Street, did not feature papers he considers central to his case.

Mr Johnson’s camp also believes the panel of MPs misunderstood some elements of Covid restrictions and confused guidance with lockdown rules when it grilled him for three hours on Wednesday.

However, the committee pointed to comments made by Harriet Harman, its Labour chairman, insisting that the evidence Mr Johnson wanted publishing would need to come with a fresh statement of truth from the witnesses in question.

A Commons spokesman said: “The committee will make decisions on further publication of evidence in due course.”

Appearing to confirm suspicions he may not necessarily accept the findings of the committee, a source close to Mr Johnson – who strongly denies any deliberate wrongdoing – said: “We will study the committee’s findings when they bring them forward.”

It came as Conservative backbenchers loyal to the former prime minister claimed the committee, which insists it is politically unbiased and which has a Tory majority, had already decided Mr Johnson was guilty.

Nadine Dorries, his former culture secretary, told TalkTV: “I don’t think there was ever a world in which this committee was going to find Boris innocent. The committee have demonstrated very clearly that they have decided early on to find him guilty.”

Sir James Duddridge, a former parliamentary private secretary to Mr Johnson, labelled the proceedings a “show trial”.

“There didn’t seem to be any evidence uncovered at the session, but it looks as though the committee have already made up their minds,” he told The Telegraph.

Another supportive MP added: “They have made up their minds. They’re MPs, for God’s sake, they’re not jurists… My view is that if he gets [a punishment], I say ‘just accept it’.”

Any sanction recommended by the committee would have to be confirmed by a vote in the Commons.

Simon Clarke, a former Cabinet minister and a key ally of Mr Johnson, admitted the attitude of the Committee was “bleak”, but said that “the wider country” would give him the benefit of the doubt.

Mr Clarke told The Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics podcast that the reality of what happened in Downing Street “has been stripped of all context” by the investigation, adding: “I don’t believe for a moment that Boris did anything for pleasure.”

And asked whether his political career was “over”, Mr Clarke replied: “It is never over for Boris.”

Mr Johnson’s evidence did little to change the public’s view of whether he knowingly misled Parliament through his repeated denials over law-breaking, a YouGov poll suggested on Thursday, with 66 per cent of voters believing he lied to MPs.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “Boris Johnson was pleased to give oral evidence to the privileges committee, and will continue to help the committee with its work.

“Mr Johnson did not knowingly or recklessly mislead Parliament. He continues to campaign on issues that matter to him including Brexit, levelling up and Ukraine, as well as in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency, where he has announced he is standing at the next general election.”

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