Boris Johnson is under pressure to “clean up” over claims his wife Carrie threw a second lockdown party at their Downing Street flat.
More Tory MPs, including a former Attorney General, urged the Prime Minister to back down over Partygate today while they process last week’s report by Sue Gray.
Downing Street has refused to deny reports that an unnamed adviser had an exchange of messages showing Ms Johnson meeting male friends at the home on June 19, 2020 – the evening of her husband’s 56th birthday.
The PM’s deputy official spokesman said Ms Gray would have looked into such allegations – if there had been “credible” claims rules that would have been breached.
And Carrie Johnson’s team seemed to confirm the news existed
But the speaker seven times refused to deny the gathering. We look at what it was, what we know – and what we don’t.
What is Carrie Johnson accused of?
She is said to have been at the Downing Street flat with friends on the Prime Minister’s birthday on June 19, 2020.
At the time, the law banned indoor social gatherings between people from different households.
The gathering is said to have taken place around four hours after the cake was handed over to the Prime Minister in the Downing Street work area – an event which earned both him and his wife a £50 fine.
Civil Service chief Simon Case has been briefed on news related to the gathering. The Sunday Times reported.
The newspaper said a staff member sent her a message at 6.15pm that the Prime Minister was returning to the flat. She reportedly responded and suggested she was dating male friends.
The Telegraph reported she responded by saying, “Great. I’m already here with the gays” – an affectionate term for some of her male friends. The Mirror understands that this was not the exact phrase used, but the context was similar.
Unlike another event at the flat five months later, the gathering was not included in Sue Gray’s bombshell report of lockdown busting parties at Downing Street.
AFP via Getty Images)
Is this the same as the “Abba Party”?
Abbas’ ‘Winner Takes it All’ was allegedly blasted from the flat on November 13, 2020, the night Mrs Johnson’s bitter rival Dominic Cummings was evicted from No10.
Sue Gray and the Met Police both looked into the gathering and Boris Johnson is said to have been in the flat at the time.
But Sue Gray ruled it was “not appropriate or proportionate” to investigate further after Scotland Yard failed to impose fines.
Claims later emerged – and have not been denied – that an original Gray draft, which said music was coming from the apartment and indicated when the meeting ended, was watered down.
Boris Johnson said it was a working meeting and Ms Johnson has previously denied there was a party that evening.
What do we NOT know about this event?
A lot of. It wasn’t included in Sue Gray’s report and we don’t know how closely it was investigated by the Met Police.
We do not have the confirmed names of those attending and Ms Johnson’s spokeswoman declined to say the purpose of the gathering.
Why could this new event get No10 and Boris Johnson in trouble?
Because four months ago Downing Street specifically denied it took place, only to now not properly deny it.
When ITV News first claimed “friends of family” were staying in the upstairs flat, a spokesman for No10 told the channel: “That’s completely false”.
But today, a No. 10 spokesman failed to deny an event at least seven times.
A spokeswoman for Ms Johnson also did not deny that a gathering had taken place and declined to say what species it was.
The spokeswoman said: “As the Sunday Times acknowledges, Sue Gray was aware of these exchanges as part of her full investigation into alleged violations.
“Staff have had ample opportunity to provide evidence including this news and all relevant information has been forwarded to the Metropolitan Police for investigation.”
It is now claimed that the Privileges Committee – more below – could expand its investigation to look into the alleged gathering at the home.
What is the Privileges Board?
Seven MPs – four of them Tories – investigating whether MPs violated parliamentary privileges.
It can find MPs who despise Parliament for “deliberately misleading” the Commons – like Secretary of War John Profumo denying an affair in 1963 – and recommend suspending them.
Inquiries are rare and only take place when ordered by the entire House of Commons.
The last MP to face a sanction was Tory Justin Tomlinson in 2016 and the last MP under investigation for misleading MPs was Labor’s Stephen Byers in 2006. He “accidentally” gave an inaccurate answer, so it there was no contempt.
The committee is normally chaired by Labor’s Chris Bryant, but he has stepped down. Labor veteran Harriet Harman, mother of the House, is expected to lead the inquiry.
What is examined?
Whether Boris Johnson intentionally misled Parliament by lying about Partygate
The inquiry “includes, but is not limited to,” four statements made by Boris Johnson in December 2021 in which he denies the No. 10 parties.
They include “all guidelines were followed” – a claim he later corrected but said he believed was correct at the time – and an outright denial that there was a party on November 13, 2020.
The Prime Minister was later pictured holding a glass of fizz as he said farewell to aide Lee Cain that day. He has claimed it is his “duty” to attend.
The committee may also, if it so chooses, investigate new allegations that Carrie Johnson held a meeting at the home on June 19, 2020 that was not mentioned in Sue Gray’s Partygate report.
Can Boris or Carrie Johnson be summoned as a witness?
Yes. Selected committees have the power to request written evidence — like Carrie Johnson’s text message — or summon witnesses to testify.
The committee can do this either through public or private hearings.
In the case of Justin Tomlinson, the hearing was private at the time, but a transcript was released after he was found for contempt.
A source suggested Tory MPs want to hold public hearings at the panel to avoid accusations of “taunting”.
The committee could get bogged down if, for example, Carrie Johnson refuses to testify.
When Dominic Cummings refused to testify before Parliament, he was found guilty of contempt in 2019. But as a non-MP, the Privileges Committee had little power to sanction him.
A spokeswoman for Ms Johnson did not respond to a question about whether she would be willing to testify.
When is the report coming?
A source close to the inquiry said there was “no way” it will appear before the summer – and it probably won’t be until late October at the earliest, possibly November.
The committee has not even met to discuss the issue and is unlikely to do so for the next two weeks.
Chairman Chris Bryant will not retire from the committee until after June 6 because it is still completing separate work.
Harriet Harman is expected to be elected in his place late next week, followed by the committee’s MPs who will elect a chair.
Then they meet and compile lists of evidence and witnesses that could struggle for availability and legal exchange for weeks.
That would leave the issue hanging over Boris Johnson at two key by-elections on June 23 and the final Tory conference in October.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/everything-know-carrie-johnson-second-27106225 Everything we know about Carrie Johnson's 'second party' claims at Downing Street flat