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Boris Johnson faces a new “Partygate” barbecue

LONDON: British lawmakers announced on Friday they will question former Prime Minister Boris Johnson over whether he lied about “Partygate”, in an investigation that could trigger his ouster from MPs.

In an interim report released after eight months of work, Parliament’s Privileges Committee said the evidence so far had undermined Johnson’s declarations of innocence to the House of Commons.

“The evidence strongly suggests that breaches of (lockdown) guidelines would have been apparent to Mr Johnson at the time he was at the gatherings,” the report said.

Described as a summary of the investigation that predates Johnson’s questioning, it added that “there is evidence that the House of Commons may have been misled.”

The committee called on the former Conservative leader to testify publicly for the week beginning March 20.

Johnson, who resigned as prime minister last summer following “Partygate” and other scandals, said the report showed he was “confirmed” and “did not commit contempt of Parliament”.

Johnson repeatedly denied in Parliament that he or his staff had broken his own Covid lockdown laws by holding boozy gatherings at 10 Downing Street.

But police fined dozens of Downing Street staff following a criminal investigation, and Johnson became the first sitting British Prime Minister to break the law over one of the gatherings.

The seven-member Privileges Committee consists of four Conservatives, two Labor MPs and one lawmaker from the Scottish National Party.

Finally, if he concludes that he has deliberately misled the House of Commons, he could propose various sanctions for all MPs to vote on.

They contained a suspension of 10 session days or more, which would trigger a petition to oust Johnson as lawmaker.

A by-election for his West London seat would then be held if 10% of registered voters there signed it.

The developments come as Johnson and his allies condemned Thursday’s news that senior civil servant Sue Gray, who ran the government’s own investigation into Partygate, has resigned to work for the leader of the opposition Labor Party.

Linking the matter to the committee’s investigation, Johnson said it was “surreal” that the panel planned to rely on evidence “collected and orchestrated” by Gray.

Her report found “a failure of leadership and judgment” in Johnson’s Downing Street operation over the controversy, but the committee insisted it had its own evidence.

It cited WhatsApp messages, including one from a top adviser who said an apology offered instead by staff “blowing another big gaping hole in the Prime Minister’s account”.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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