- By Sam Francis
- BBC News political correspondent
MPs have said Boris Johnson may have misled parliament several times about Partigit’s party – but the former prime minister insists their report will exonerate him.
The Privileges Commission said it saw evidence that “strongly suggested” that violations of the Covid law would have been “obvious” to Johnson.
But Johnson said he had not “intentionally or recklessly” misled MPs about closed rallies in Downing Street.
He said he was confident he would be cleared by the committee.
He is scheduled to testify before the committee later this month.
In a preliminary report published on Friday, MPs highlighted ways in which parliament may have been misled.
These include a statement on December 8, 2021 that no rules or guidelines were broken in Number 10.
Johnson told BBC News he did not “know or suspect” that the events broke the rules when he spoke about them in the House of Commons.
He added that “after 10 months of effort” the committee had not produced evidence “to indicate otherwise”.
He said, “I have not misled the House, nor do I think I am guilty of contempt. I think this process will gladly exonerate me.”
WhatsApp messages detected
The commission published excerpts from a series of messages it received via WhatsApp as part of its investigation.
In one April 28, 2021, seven months before press reports on the parties first appeared, an unnamed No. 10 official noted that another official “was concerned about the prime minister leaking out of anger, and to be fair, I don’t think that’s unwarranted.” “.
On another day, from January 25, 2022, Jack Doyle, Johnson’s director of communications, told Official No. 10 that he had “heard no explanation” for how a birthday party for the former prime minister could be held in the Cabinet Room in June 2020. The rules.
In a separate WhatsApp exchange the same day, an official messaged Mr Doyle saying: “I’m trying to do some Q&A.” [briefing for officials dealing with the media queries]It’s not going well.”
“I’m struggling to come up with a way to have these in the rules in my head,” replied Mr Doyle, adding, “The prime minister was eating his lunch, of course.”
The official replied: “I meant to the police but yeah it’s ridiculous as hard thing cake.”
The official then suggested that they could argue that it was “reasonably necessary for business purposes”.
Mr. Doyle replied, “I’m not sure one works. It also pokes another big hole in the Prime Minister’s account, doesn’t it?”
In May last year, an investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray found that widespread rule-breaking had occurred, and Johnson was among 83 people fined by police for attending law-breaking events.
The Privileges Commission said it would take Gray’s findings into account.
This week it emerged that Ms Gray had resigned from the civil service and was set to become chief of staff to Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, prompting claims by Tory MPs that she was politically biased.
Johnson said that raised questions about the conclusions of her investigation.
“I think people might look at it in a different light,” he told BBC News.
He added that he “might have questioned her more closely about her independence” if “she had told me all the things I now know”.
He added that it was “surreal” that MPs investigating whether he misled parliament about Partijet were planning to take her inquiry into consideration.
If Johnson is found to have misled Parliament, he could be suspended from Parliament or expelled, leading to a by-election.
But the committee’s findings, and any punishment for Mr Johnson, must be approved by a vote in Parliament.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said “the evidence of Boris Johnson’s wrongdoing is already overwhelming”.
“I think Boris Johnson needs to face the evidence in front of him,” he said.
Sir Kiir accused Rishi Sunak of “sitting on his hands” during the investigation.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper accused Johnson of trying to “dodge” the “damned” questions raised by the committee.