PM and allies launch legal fightback against ‘witch-hunt’ over partygate | Politics News

Boris Johnson and his allies have launched a legal fight against the Commons investigation into claims he lied to parliament about partisanship.

The Government has authorized legal advice from top QC, Lord Pannick, who the Prime Minister’s supporters say undermines the legitimacy of the investigation.

Lord Pannick is a peer who has previously acted against the government for anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller and Shamima Begum about stripping her of her British citizenship.

The investigation into Mr Johnson, by the All Parties Privilege Commission, was denounced by his allies as “a witch hunt” and “a kangaroo court” after the committee claimed it could rule against him even if he did not intentionally mislead MPs. doctor.

As a result, Downing Street and the Cabinet Office have called on Lord Pannick for a legal opinion, claiming that the all-party committee investigation could damage government operations.

Supporters of the Prime Minister are now arguing that Lord Pannick’s advice means the end of the poll.

‘Faithful and cold’

Culture Minister Nadine Dorries told the Daily Mail: “This expert’s legal opinion suggests that the investigation is a biased Kafkaesque witch hunt – it should be stopped before it causes any further damage. any damage.

“As a minister, you simply cannot verify every single piece of credible advice and information that you are given in good faith by well-intentioned and dedicated senior officials.

“What this is likely to cause is a trap for every future minister, and it’s a macabre prospect for the future of our democracy.”

Given Mr Johnson’s refusal to rule out conspiring to return to politics, the stakes could not have been higher for him. If he is found to be contemptuous of Congress, he could be suspended or even kicked out of the Commons following a recall petition.

But ahead of the impending release of Lord Pannick’s legal opinion, government sources are said to have claimed it would be “absolutely devastating” to the commission’s investigation.

Lord David Pannick arrives at the UK's Supreme Court to testify on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to back parliament ahead of Brexit, in London, Britain September 19, 2019. REUTERS / Hannah McKay
Lord David Pannick

‘Paralyze democracy’

Liz Truss, the leader of Tory’s leadership, signaled throughout the party that she wanted to drop the investigation. But that would sink her into the same ranks of cover-ups and fraternities as for Owen Paterson, which has left Mr Johnson badly damaged.

Government sources approached by Sky News declined to comment on the many reports of Lord Pannick’s legal advice, but also made no attempt to deny their authenticity.

“This is not for Boris, but for all future Prime Ministers and MPs,” a source told The Daily Telegraph. “Ministers will never be able to say anything if they think they might be looked down upon by inadvertently giving the wrong answer.”

Supporters of Mr Johnson also claimed that the legal advice that would show ministers investigating for misleading the House of Commons “in good faith” would have a chilling effect and would “paralyze the democracy”.

“Ministers will never be able to say anything if they think they might be looked down upon by accidentally giving the wrong answer,” one source added.

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June: PM’s ethics advisor quits

The committee is poised to look into whether Mr Johnson misled the Commons when he claimed “all guidelines were followed out of 10” and “no party” broke the lockdown rules.

There is anger among MPs loyal to Mr Johnson over the appointment of Mrs Labor Harriet Harman to chair the committee, given her previous criticisms of the Prime Minister. party.

She took over as chair after another senior Labor MP, Chris Bryant, refused because he had voiced a serious and persistent criticism of the Prime Minister over the accounts he gave to parliament.

Cabinet Office sources told The Daily Telegraph the advice was commissioned by the newly created Prime Minister’s Office, which is based in their department but reports to Downing Street. They suggested the advice would be published by Number 10 instead of the Cabinet Office.

People arrive at 10 Downing Street in London, Monday, May 23, 2022. The public awaits Sue Gray's report on COVID lockdown breaches across Whitehall, the so-called "Partygate".  (AP Photo / Frank Augstein) PIC: AP
Photo: AP

What do the rules say?

It was initially assumed that MPs on the Privilege Committee would have to prove that Mr Johnson had “deliberately misled” the House of Commons about the extent of Downing Street partisans during the strikes.

This is based on the ancient congressional rule book, Erskine May, which states that “making a statement intentionally misleading [is seen] as contempt”.

But when the committee announced its recommendation in June, it addressed only whether Mr Johnson was “deceiving the House of Commons”, easing the burden of proof.

The committee consists of seven MPs – four Tories, two Labor and one from the SNP – and has called for evidence of Mr Johnson’s “knowledge of activities at 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office under COVID-19 regulations, from the occurrence of such events to date”, as well as “any briefing or request by Mr. Johnson in connection with such events”.

The committee also said it would be “ready to obtain oral or written evidence from those wishing to remain anonymous”, a move that has delighted Mr Johnson’s allies on the Tory bench.

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