The former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliberately misled lawmakers over breaches of his own Covid-19 lockdown rules, a parliamentary committee has found, in a damning and unprecedented report that lambasts Johnson’s conduct and recommends he is refused a pass to enter the parliamentary estate.
The committee’s report found that Johnson “committed a serious contempt” of parliament when, after the so-called “Partygate” scandal which revealed that illegal gatherings took place at Downing Street, Johnson told parliament that rules were followed at all times.
It also rebukes Johnson for his attacks on the committee’s impartiality, finding that he committed contempt of parliament on several more occasions when giving evidence and when he resigned as an MP in fury on Friday.
The findings amount to a historic admonishment of former prime mInister, who won a landslide electoral victory less than four years ago but saw his political career collapse amid a series of scandals.
“The contempt was all the more serious because it was committed by the Prime Minister, the most senior member of the government,” the Privileges Committee wrote in its report, published Thursday. “There is no precedent for a Prime Minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House.”
“He misled the House on an issue of the greatest importance to the House and to the public, and did so repeatedly,” the members wrote, adding that Johnson also misled the committee when he presented evidence in his defense.
The investigation’s focus was on Johnson’s conduct during the Covid-19 pandemic, when he was prime minister and found by police to have breached his own rules.
Unlike a police investigation and a separate parliamentary probe into the parties themselves, this inquest looked at whether Johnson knowingly misled lawmakers in the House of Commons when he reassured them that he was unaware of the parties.
The committee would have recommended a 90-day suspension from the Commons – a ban nine times the threshold that would force a sitting member of parliament to hold a by-election to reclaim their seat.
Johnson, however, avoided that fight by resigning before the committee had published its report. In his resignation statement Johnson claimed that the committee’s findings were politically motivated and an attempt to force him out of parliament, though he has presented no evidence to back up these claims.
“This attack on a committee carrying out its remit from the democratically elected House itself amounts to an attack on our democratic institutions,” the committee wrote in its report, calling Johnson’s language “vitriolic” and “completely unacceptable.”
Johnson, in his own response to the report, called its publication a “dreadful day for democracy.”
“This report is a charade. I was wrong to believe in the committee or its good. faith. The terrible truth is that it is not I who has twisted the truth to suit my purposes,” he said.