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[Politics] Boris Johnson: Ex-PM to reveal evidence in his defence over Partygate

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Boris Johnson will publish evidence in his defence ahead of a grilling by MPs him over whether he misled Parliament about Covid rule-breaking parties.

The former prime minister faces a crucial televised evidence session in front of the Commons Privileges Committee on Wednesday.

The committee is yet to publish its final verdict - but its initial update earlier this month said Mr Johnson may have misled Parliament multiple times.

Mr Johnson denies misleading MPs.

Wednesday's session, which could last up to five hours, will be a key chance for Mr Johnson to persuade the seven cross-party MPs who make up the committee that he did not mislead MPs in December 2021.

That would include when he told the Commons that he had "been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken".

Sources close to Mr Johnson say he will publish a "compelling dossier" that will provide evidence and arguments that he did not knowingly mislead parliament.

If he fails to convince the committee and is found guilty, he could be suspended from the Commons, and even faces a recall petition, which would trigger a by-election, if that suspension is for more than 10 days.

Crucially, though, MPs would have to approve any sanction on Mr Johnson.

In May last year, an inquiry by senior civil servant Sue Gray found widespread rule-breaking had taken place, and Mr Johnson was among 83 people fined by police for attending law-breaking events.

The Sunday Times, Observer and Sunday Telegraph report that Mr Johnson's "dossier" will include advice he claims he was given at the time by No 10 aides, advising him that Covid rules were not broken.

The Sunday Times quotes one source saying the messages show "in black and white" that what Mr Johnson told Parliament was what he had been advised to say by officials and his No 10 team, claiming he was forced to rely on advice because he was not at some of the events.

The newspapers also report that his defence may repeat allegations of bias levelled at the former top civil servant Sue Gray, whose inquiry found widespread rule-breaking had taken place in Whitehall during Covid.

link: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-65001385

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