(London) Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pleaded good faith on Tuesday while admitting to having misled Parliament about the parties held in Downing Street during the anti-covid confinement, on the eve of his hearing before a parliamentary committee of inquiry. .
His defense, in the form of “written evidence” detailed in 110 points over 52 pages, was published on Tuesday.
“ I take full responsibility for everything that happened under my supervision ”, in Downing Street, he starts in the introduction.
Pushed to resign this summer by a succession of scandals, foremost among which is “partygate”, Boris Johnson is under investigation which, if it concludes that the former head of government lied to Parliament, risks cost him his parliamentary seat and even his political career.
The investigation must determine whether he deliberately lied to the House of Commons, in particular when he affirmed before the deputies in December 2021 that “ the rules were respected all the time ”.
He will be heard by the commission of inquiry on Wednesday afternoon, a hearing scheduled to last several hours.
“ It is now clear that over several days, there were rallies ” in Downing Street, he acknowledges in his defense. “ They should never have taken place ”, he continues, apologizing to the British.
“It is of course true that my statements to Parliament that the rules had been followed at all times have not proven to be accurate and I take this opportunity to apologize to Parliament for this,” he wrote.
“ I recognize that the House of Commons was misled by my statements ”, admits Boris Johnson. “But when these statements were made, they were made in good faith and based on what I honestly knew and believed at the time.”
“I did not intentionally or recklessly deceive parliament on December 1, 2021, December 8, 2021 or any other date,” he wrote.
In a preliminary report published in early March, the commission said that the evidence it collected “strongly suggests” that violations of the anti-covid rules must have been “obvious” to Boris Johnson.
The former Conservative leader has already been fined by the police. Rishi Sunak, who was finance minister at the time but has since become prime minister, was also fined for attending a rally in Downing Street.
Cascading revelations for months had angered Britons, especially relatives of COVID-19 victims.
The commission of inquiry which hears Boris Johnson on Wednesday in the “ Partygate ” scandal, these illegal parties organized in Downing Street during the COVID-19 pandemic, will examine all the statements of the former Prime Minister, to determine whether he knowingly lied to Parliament.
If it establishes that Boris Johnson lied to MPs, he could be suspended which would seriously threaten his political future.
These are the main points that will be scrutinized.
“ All instructions were fully followed at No. 10 (Downing Street) ”, Johnson told the House of Commons, his first statement on the case, after the revelation of his parties by the Daily Mirror the day before.
“Since these accusations emerged, I have been repeatedly assured that there were no parties and that no rules related to COVID-19 were broken,” he insists. again, in reaction to the publication by the ITV channel of a damning video of its press officer at the time, Allegra Stratton.
In this video, she is filmed rehearsing answers to give to the media if asked about the case, and laughing at claims that Downing Street staff partied the previous Christmas. She subsequently resigned.
In front of the deputies, Boris Johnson said he was “furious” about the content of this video. A few days later, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of an investigation into the scandal, to be led by senior civil servant Sue Gray.
Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie, along with his finance minister Rishi Sunak, are fined for attending a party to mark Mr Johnson’s birthday in June 2020.
“ I must say in all honesty, that at the time it did not occur to me that this could have been a violation of the rules ”, he defends himself.
The report of the investigation led by Sue Gray is published, and describes, without obscuring any details, the parties organized in Downing Street during the pandemic.
If Boris Johnson claims to “bitterly regret” the image given of his teams in the report, he refuses to resign despite calls to this effect from the opposition.
“ It didn’t occur to me that I was doing anything other than what I thought was my duty as prime minister during a pandemic, and that’s why I did it”, he defends himself. to justify his presence at farewell parties for colleagues.
“When I came to this chamber and said in all sincerity that the rules and guidelines were followed all the time, that was what I believed to be true. This was certainly the case when I attended rallies to say goodbye to civil servants,” he told Parliament.
Boris Johnson finally resigned on July 7, 2022.