Evening Telegraph (First Edition)

I’m not partygate liar, says Johnson


BORIS Johnson was accused of relying on “flimsy” assurances before issuing his partygate denials, as he insisted there is not a “shred of evidence” to show he lied to MPs.

In an at times short-tempered testimony, the former prime minister’s defences were met yesterday with exasperati­on by multiple colleagues on the privileges committee.

Mr Johnson hit out at the “manifestly unfair” process in the hearing but declined to repeat the charge of some allies that the inquiry is a “kangaroo court”. He accepts he misled MPs but denies doing so “recklessly”, insisting he denied lockdown breaches “in good faith” on the advice of officials.

Harriet Harman, the Labour chairwoman of the Tory-majority committee, asked whether he could see why they were “a bit dismayed about the flimsy nature” of the assurances.

Senior Tory Sir Bernard Jenkin questioned why Mr Johnson failed to take “proper advice”, which Mr Johnson angrily rejected as “complete nonsense”.

Mr Johnson also hit out at Alberto Costa for raising a “completely ridiculous assessment” after the

Conservati­ve suggested his reliance on advisers was a “deflection mechanism”.

He defended various rule-breaking events during the coronaviru­s pandemic, including his birthday party for which he was fined, as being “necessary for work purposes”.

But questioned about a large gathering in the No 10 garden, Mr Johnson said: “People who say that we were partying in lockdown simply do not know what they are talking about.”

Mr Johnson could be suspended and face a possible by-election if he is found to have committed a contempt of Parliament with his denials of rule-breaking to MPs.

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