Boris Johnson Did Not 'Intentionally' Mislead Parliament Over Partygate, Dominic Raab Says

Raab said staff in Downing Street were "working incredibly long hours, under incredible pressure, doing their very best".
Dominic Raab.
Dominic Raab.
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Boris Johnson did not intentionally mislead parliament when he assured MPs no rules had been broken over partygate, Dominic Raab has said.

The deputy prime minister said Johnson was acting in “good faith” when he told parliament he had been assured that no rules were broken.

On December 8, Johnson told the Commons: “I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken. I repeat that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken.”

However, yesterday the Metropolitan Police revealed that 20 fixed penalty notices were being issued in relation to events in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Asked if that meant Johnson had misled Parliament, Raab told Times Radio: “No, I don’t think there was an intention to mislead. The prime minister in good faith updated parliament on what he knows.

“Of course, precisely because there were questions around this, the Sue Gray inquiry was set up and precisely because it was right and proper to enable the Met to conduct the investigation that has taken place.

“Of course we accept that those things wouldn’t have happened if there weren’t legitimate questions that have been made.”

The issue over whether Johnson misled parliament was a red line for some Tory MPs who privately suggested it could prompt them to write a letter of no confidence in the PM.

However, the crisis in Ukraine has quelled any major Tory rebellion as many of them do not want to rock the boat during the war.

Asked what it said about the culture in Downing Street when at least 20 fines were being issued, Raab said it was “deeply regrettable”.

The justice secretary told Sky News: “I’m not going to excuse anything that happened and shouldn’t have done. We’ve been very clear about that. The punishments have already been meted out. Some of them - I accept that.

“But my experience, I’m just telling you honestly first hand, was the incredible pressure and hard work and dedication of the overwhelming majority of people working No10.

“I’m always quite careful whilst engaging and embracing the accountability that’s right to take place to say that it’s not right to tar all the civil servants that worked so hard during this pandemic.

“I don’t accept that sort of caricature is right. I saw a lot of people working incredibly long hours, under incredible pressure, doing their very best.”

The partygate scandal recently engulfed the government and saw Tory MPs publicly call for the prime minister to go.

The first set of fines show that the Met Police believes laws relating to covid restrictions have been broken in some instances.

Any fines are expected to be around £100 and No10 has pledged to reveal if Boris Johnson himself is fined.

The Metropolitan Police Service said on Tuesday: “We will today initially begin to refer 20 fixed penalty notices to be issued for breaches of Covid-19 regulations.”

Detectives launched their investigation at the end of last year after reports emerged of gatherings taking place during the pandemic.

Johnson apologised in January following the publication of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the scandal.

She blamed “failures of leadership and judgment” in No10 and the cabinet office for the affair.


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