Ex-UK PM Johnson to face grilling over ‘partygate’ fiasco

British lawmakers will next week quiz former prime minister Boris Johnson over whether he lied to them about “Partygate”, in a probe that could trigger his removal as a member of parliament.

Johnson repeatedly denied in parliament that he or his staff had breached his own Covid lockdown laws by holding boozy gatherings in Downing Street.

But police issued fines to dozens of aides after a criminal probe, and Johnson became the first serving UK prime minister found to have broken the law, over one of the gatherings.

Johnson resigned as prime minister in July 2022 after being dogged for months by the accusations of lockdown breaches and other scandals.

“Mr Johnson has accepted the Committee’s invitation to give oral evidence in public,” a statement by parliament’s watchdog privileges committee said.

The hearing will take place on March 22.

In an interim report released earlier this month following eight months of work, the committee said the evidence so far undermined Johnson’s pleas of innocence to the House of Commons.

“The evidence strongly suggests that breaches of (Covid lockdown) guidance would have been obvious to Mr Johnson at the time he was at the gatherings,” the report stated.

Described as a summary of the investigation ahead of Johnson’s questioning, it added “there is evidence that the House of Commons may have been misled” on several occasions.

Johnson has insisted that the report vindicated him.

“There’s absolutely nothing to show that any adviser of mine or civil servant warned me in advance that events might be against the rules,” he told broadcasters previously.

“I believed what we were doing was implicitly within the rules.”

If the seven-member committee ultimately concludes that Johnson deliberately misled parliament, it could recommend various sanctions for all MPs to vote on.

They include a suspension of 10 sitting days or more, which would trigger a petition to oust Johnson as a lawmaker.

A by-election for his west London seat would then be held if 10 percent of registered voters there sign it.

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