Weston Mercury: Weston MP welcomes Boris Johnson committee probe

Weston MP John Penrose has welcomed the decision for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be investigated by the Privilege Committee on whether he misled parliament.

Mr Johnson stands accused of misleading the House of Commons when he claimed to not have attended any parties in the Downing Street partygate saga.

Johnson became the first-ever sitting Prime Minister to be sanctioned for breaking the law while in office when the Met Police issued him a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for breaking his Covid rules on April 13.

Conservative MP, John Penrose believes it is ‘absolutely right’ that the correct procedures be followed by everyone and not delayed.

Mr Penrose said: “It is absolutely right that Parliament should use the official constitutional process – the equivalent of a trial – of referring the Prime Minister to the Privilege Committee to decide the, extremely grave, charge of lying to Parliament.

“There were suggestions it would be postponed, but I and others would not have supported a delay because we have got to clear this up once and for all.”

In total, 50 fines were issued in the first batch of FPNs including one for Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

After receiving the fine, the Prime Minister addressed the House of Commons and stated it “had not occurred” to him that the gathering in question could warrant an FPN.

Boris Johnson said on April 19: “I paid the fine immediately, and I offered the British public a full apology,

“As soon as I received the notice, I acknowledged the hurt and the anger and I said that people had a right to expect better of their prime minister – and I repeat that again in the house now.”

A motion was then tabled by the Labour Party referring Boris Johnson to the cross-party Privileges Committee which will investigate whether or not he knowingly misled the House when initially denying the gatherings.

Mr Penrose added: “We need to know whether the lockdown rules were being followed by people in Downing Street like everyone else.

“At the moment the only certainty is that the PM has been fined for being at a work meeting that turned into a surprise birthday celebration.

“But the Police are investigating another 11 events, so we need to know whether it was a one-off lapse or if there are more revelations to come.

“Both Professor Ferguson, the scientific advisor to the SAGE committee, and Matt Hancock MP, Health Secretary at the time, resigned for repeated breaches of the rules, so a clear standard has been set.

“I hope and expect the Police investigation will not drag on much longer and, once all the evidence is clear, everyone should be treated equally.”