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Johnson says ‘I did not lie’ to UK MPs over parties

Former United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson says he did not lie to MPs, defending himself at a parliamentary hearing.

March 23, 2023
23 March 2023

Boris Johnson says he did not lie to the United Kingdom parliament over rule-breaking COVID-19 lockdown parties as the former prime minister fought for his political career at a hearing with MPs where he will undergo hours of questioning.

Parliament’s Committee of Privileges is investigating whether Johnson, who was ousted from Downing Street in September, intentionally or recklessly misled the House of Commons in a series of statements about the parties.

If the committee concludes Johnson intentionally misled parliament, then he could be suspended. 

Any suspension longer than 10 days could prompt a by-election in his constituency.

The former leader, who considered an audacious bid for a second stint as prime minister last year, has said he was not warned the events broke the rules and has accused the committee of bias.

“I’m here to say to you, hand on heart, that I did not lie to the House,” Johnson said. 

“When those statements were made. They were made in good faith and on the basis of what I honestly knew and believed at the time.”

The committee published 110 pages of evidence earlier on Wednesday, showing that some Downing Street officials said Johnson must have known that parties had taken place despite his denials.

“Misleading the house might sound like a technical issue but it is a matter of great importance,” Harriet Harman, the chair of the committee, said at the outset of the hearing.

“Misleading intentionally, or recklessly, or refusing to answer, or failing to correct impedes or frustrates the functioning of the house, and is contempt.”

The so-called partygate scandal contributed to the ultimate downfall of Johnson after months of reports that he, alongside other senior government figures, had been present at alcohol-fuelled gatherings in Downing Street during 2020 and 2021 when much of the rest of the UK was forced to stay at home.

The outcry and repeated allegations of lying eventually prompted the resignations of most of his top team of government ministers, including the current prime minister Rishi Sunak.

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