• Sunday, July 21, 2024

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Johnson loyalists including Priti Patel ‘named and shamed’ in parliament probe

The ruled that the campaign of ‘improper pressure’ imperilled the ability of members to investigate wrongdoing by their colleagues.

FILE PHOTO: Boris Johnson (R) and Priti Patel speak to police cadets during a visit Surrey Police headquarters in Guildford, south west of London, on July 27, 2021. (Photo by YUI MOK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

A panel of British MPs on Thursday (29) accused diehard supporters of former prime minister Boris Johnson, including former home secretary Priti Patel, in parliament of waging a campaign of abuse and contempt against his “Partygate” investigators.

Eight Johnson loyalists, including former ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries, were named and shamed in a special report by the privileges committee.

The same committee had already found Johnson guilty of intentionally misleading the House of Commons in his serial denials that parties had taken place in 10 Downing Street during Covid lockdowns.

That verdict, which forced Johnson in advance to resign as a member of parliament, was roundly denounced by his most outspoken supporters in both the Commons and House of Lords as a “witch hunt” allegedly engineered by his political enemies.

The committee, which has a majority of MPs from Johnson’s Tory party, ruled that the campaign of “improper pressure” imperilled the ability of members to investigate wrongdoing by their colleagues.

Former frontbenchers Brendan Clarke-Smith, Mark Jenkinson, Andrea Jenkyns and Michael Fabricant were also named in the report, The Guardian reported.

Zac Goldsmith, a Foreign Office minister, and two other Tory peers – Lord Cruddas and Lord Greenhalgh – were similarly criticised.

“This unprecedented and coordinated pressure did not affect the conduct or outcome of our inquiry,” the special report said.

“However, it had significant personal impact on individual (committee) members and raised significant security concerns.”

The report urged the full Commons to vote to accept its report and resolve that in future, MPs “should not impugn the integrity” of the committee “or attempt to lobby or intimidate” its members.

“It will be for the House to consider what further action, if any, to take in respect of Members of the House referred to in this special report,” it added.

There was no immediate comment from Johnson — who conferred state honours on some of those named in the report in a deeply controversial resignation list.

Newly knighted Tory MP Fabricant, stood by his prior attacks, tweeting: “Respect for the committee needs to be earned.” Meanwhile, Jenkinson, accused the privileges committee of “gross overreach”.

And since the committee’s verdict against Johnson two weeks ago, his loyalists have seized on reports that one of its members, Tory Bernard Jenkin, may himself have attended a lockdown-breaching party.

Johnson, who in 2019 led the Tories to a landslide election victory but left office in disgrace in September 2022, resigned as a lawmaker on June 9, dismissing the earlier report’s findings as “a lie” and “a charade”. He accused committee members of waging a vendetta against him.

The latest report’s conclusions will do little to boost the standing of the Tories, who are badly lagging the main opposition Labour Party in the opinion polls.

(with inputs from agencies)

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