According to people close to the investigation, Boris Johnson will have committed “several” contempts of parliament in a report by MPs on his behavior as prime minister during the partygate scandal.
The House of Commons Privileges Committee will release its long-awaited report on Johnson on Thursday morning following a 14-month investigation.
The report concluded that Johnson had expressed “a number of contempts” of parliament, including misleading MPs in statements he made in the House of Commons about Downing Street parties being held during the coronavirus lockdowns, two said people close to the committee.
While the committee’s primary focus will be on Johnson, it will also censure the behavior of MPs who have criticized the inquiry but will not name them, these people added.
The committee has investigated whether Johnson deliberately misled parliament after stating as prime minister that Covid rules were being followed at all times following media reports of Number 10 meetings being held during Covid restrictions.
Johnson announced on Friday that he was immediately stepping down as Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip – after accusing the cross-party committee of behaving like a “kangaroo court” engaged in a “political assault” against him.
While the committee has the power to recommend sanctions against MPs, including suspension of the Commons that could lead to a by-election, Johnson’s decision to step down anticipated such an outcome.
One of those close to the committee said Johnson’s decision to release some of the panel’s draft conclusions last Friday was perceived as contempt.
This person added: “There are (in the report) references to issues other than just the contempt of Parliament in what (Johnson) said in the (Commons) dispatch box (about Downing Street parties).
“Announcing the outcome of the investigation is in itself a contempt of parliament. Clearly, it needs no further investigation.”
This panel finding was anticipated by others with knowledge of its operation.
Dominic Grieve, a former member of the Commons privileges committee and former Tory attorney general, said Johnson would have been given the draft report in confidence before commenting on its contents.
“If he has betrayed that trust, then he has acted with contempt for the committee,” he added. “I don’t think there’s a gray area.”
Johnson said in a statement: “I am not guilty of any contempt of parliament and have not knowingly misled the House of Commons.”
The committee’s report also aims to raise concerns about MPs who have ridiculed the panel, but are not expected to name them.
Conservative MPs Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and Dame Andrea Jenkyns, both close allies of Johnson, have labeled the commission’s inquiry a “kangaroo court”.
One of the people close to the committee said: “Parliament runs its own business. The courts are not involved. If it cannot do so in a reasonable way, there is a question mark over the future independence of the privilege system.”
Johnson on Wednesday called on a Privileges Committee member to resign over reports the MP had attended a meeting in parliament during the Covid restrictions.
Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin attended a reception in Parliament in December 2020, when London was under so-called Tier 2 restrictions and indoor gatherings of more than six people were not allowed, according to the Guido Fawkes website.
Johnson said it was “outrageous and a total contempt of parliament” if true, adding that Jenkin “has no choice but to explain his actions to his own committee for his colleagues to investigate and then rule.” steps”.
Jenkin was approached for comment.
Other MPs accused Johnson of seizing the report on Jenkin in an attempt to divert attention from his own conduct.
Former Tory minister David Davis said: “The difficulty for Boris is that when you’re in a trial it’s not a valid excuse to say ‘One of the jurors is imperfect’, even if it’s true and maybe not. . . It’s a distraction from the real problem – that he’s guilty of misleading the House.”
Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “This is a typical Boris Johnson distraction tactic that doesn’t change the fact that he broke the law and lied about it.”