LONDON (AP) – Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted on Tuesday that he misled Parliament about government parties breaking the rules during the coronavirus pandemic – but insisted he never deliberately lied.
On Wednesday, lawmakers are due to question the outrageous former UK leader over whether he lied when he denied that his Downing Street offices were hosting parties in violation of COVID-19 lockdown rules. If it is found that he deliberately lied, he could be removed from office or even lose his seat in Parliament.
In a dossier of written testimonies to the House of Commons Committee of Privileges, Johnson admitted that “my statements to Parliament that the Rules and Recommendations have always been observed have proven to be incorrect.”
But he said his statements “were made in good faith and based on what I honestly knew and believed at the time. I did not mislead the House intentionally or recklessly.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the committee will personally interview Johnson about “partying” — a scandal involving gatherings at government offices in 2020 and 2021 that violated government restrictions on the pandemic. Ultimately, police issued 126 tickets for night parties, drunken parties, and “wine Fridays”, including one for Johnson, and the scandal helped hasten the end of his three-year tenure.
When the batches were first reported in late 2021, Johnson initially said no rules had been broken. He later apologized and said there were “misjudgments” but still insisted that he thought he was attending work events, not parties.
Johnson’s lawyers say the committee must show that Johnson intended to mislead the House of Representatives, and did not do so unintentionally.
Johnson and his supporters also question the impartiality of Sue Grey, the senior civil servant who conducted the partygate investigation, as she has now accepted the position of chief of staff to the leader of the opposition Labor Party.
If the committee finds Johnson is being disrespected, it may recommend punishments ranging from a verbal apology to removal from office or even expulsion from Parliament, or recommend no sanctions at all. Any punishment must be approved by the House of Commons.
Johnson was forced to resign in July after a string of scandals over money and ethics finally proved too much for his fellow Conservatives, who were leaving government by the dozens.