Johnson allies criticised over attacks on MPs investigating partygate lies
Allies of Boris Johnson including Nadine Dorries and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg have been criticised for putting “improper pressure” on the Parliamentary committee which examined allegations that he lied to MPs over partygate.
The Privileges Committee highlighted comments by senior MPs including Ms Dorries, Sir Jacob and Dame Priti Patel along with peers including Lord Goldsmith – a serving minister.
The committee ultimately triggered Mr Johnson’s resignation from Parliament in protest at its recommendation that he should face a lengthy suspension for misleading the Commons with his denials of lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street.
His supporters frequently attacked the Privileges Committee as a “witch hunt” and “kangaroo court” – with Mr Johnson found to be complicit in the campaign against the panel investigating him.
In a special report, the Privileges Committee named some of those involved and criticised their actions.
“Those Members did not choose to engage through any proper process such as the submission of letters or evidence to our inquiry, but by attacking the members of the committee, in order to influence their judgment,” the committee’s report said.
Their aim was to “influence the outcome of the inquiry”, “impede the work of the committee by inducing members to resign from it”, “discredit the committee’s conclusions if those conclusions were not what they wanted” and “discredit the Committee as a whole”, it said.
The report added: “The committee is particularly concerned about attacks mounted by experienced colleagues, including a serving minister of the Crown, a former leader of the House and a former secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.”
The report said “pressure was applied particularly to Conservative members of the committee”.
“This had the clear intention to drive those members off the committee and so to frustrate the intention of the House that the inquiry should be carried out, or to prevent the inquiry coming to a conclusion which the critics did not want.”
There were also “sustained attempts to undermine and challenge the impartiality” of the committee’s Labour chairwoman, Harriet Harman.
“This unprecedented and co-ordinated pressure did not affect the conduct or outcome of our inquiry. However, it had significant personal impact on individual members and raised significant security concerns.”
The committee said it will be for the House of Commons to consider “what further action, if any, to take” in respect of the MPs named in the report.