Boris Johnson is gearing up to unveil “bombshell” evidence that he believes could clear him in the Partygate scandal. The former prime minister’s legal team is reportedly putting the finishing touches on its defence against accusations that he knowingly and deliberately misled MPs about lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street. The new revelations come ahead of a grilling session by the House of Commons privileges committee on Wednesday.
Mr Johnson’s “bombshell defence dossier,” as his allies describe it, will contain letters from Mr Johnson’s advisors telling him that no Covid rules had been broken in Number 10 that was delivered just before he spoke in Parliament, according to The Telegraph.
An unnamed source close to Mr Johnson’s defence team said the dossier includes new evidence that will “help his case”.
His defence is that he informed Parliament with information which, at the time, he thought to be true, the source said. Documentary evidence demonstrates that he received advice to say what he continued to say.
Mr Johnson maintained that he thought no rules had been broken until he later corrected himself after it became clear what had actually happened.
His six-person strong legal team, led by Lord Pannick KC, will present WhatsApp conversations and other “internal comms” from the time to make the case that the prime minister’s statement was based on what he had been told by No 10 aides.
The team has until Monday morning to file their written defence, which will then be made public before the hearing on Wednesday.
MPs on that panel are expected to make the case he should have known some of the events he attended went against lockdown rules.
The Metropolitan Police handed out 126 fines to 83 people, including Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak, for violating the Covid statute in connection with eight separate gatherings in government buildings, which served as evidence of some wrongdoing.
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His legal team will also warn that his case risks setting a precedent of hauling MPs before the privilege committee each time they made an honest mistake and then rectified the record.
His defence will also argue that the privileges committee’s political orientation makes it an “unfair process” to put Mr Johnson through.
The committee is led by Labour’s Ms Harman, a veteran MP with 41 years of service, and consists of seven MPs: four Conservatives, two Labour, and one SNP.
The committee issued an interim report earlier this month with new evidence, but friends of the former Prime Minister believe it was “cherry-picked” and does not represent the full picture.