Justice secretary Alex Chalk has insisted that the process by which Boris Johnson was referred to the police by the cabinet office over new allegations of rule breaking during the pandemic occurred “without any intervention from ministers”.
It comes as Mr Johnson’s office blasted “yet another politically motivated stitch up” in a statement yesterday.
New concerns around the former PM’s conduct during covid are said to have arisen during the preparations for the upcoming public inquiry into the pandemic. As part of the preparations, several visits by friends to Chequers, the prime minister’s country house, and Downing Street were spotted in Boris Johnson’s ministerial diary.
The cabinet office has now forwarded concerns to the Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police.
Commenting on this new development this morning, justice secretary Alex Chalk told LBC that evidence about potential parties at Chequers during COVID were handed to police “in accordance with the civil service code” and “with no ministerial intervention”.
“Whether it was the right judgement turns on what’s in those documents”, he says.
He later told GB News: “As I understand it, when they looked at those documents, they then thought that there was materials they passed [and] civil servants — civil servants without any intervention from ministers, I want to stress that — took a decision to pass it to the police”.
He added: “I haven’t seen those documents quite properly, they wouldn’t be passed to me. And so it really it’s really difficult to say anything further about it. That’s now with the police and they’ll have to take a view about it”.
Mr Chalk quit Mr Johnson’s government last summer arguing: “the standards of candour expected of a British government has irretrievably broken down”.
In a punchy statement last night, Mr Johnson’s office labelled the fresh partygate allegations “totally untrue”.
They said that lawyers have advised the events in question were lawful, adding that Mr Johnson was not contacted before the referral to police and the privileges committee was made.
The statement said: “Mr Johnson’s lawyers have tonight written to the police forces involved to explain in detail why the Cabinet Office is entirely wrong in its assertions.
“The events in question were all within the rules either because they were held outdoors or came within another lawful exception. They include regular meetings with civil servants and advisers.
“It appears some within government have decided to make unfounded suggestions both to the police and to the Privileges Committee.
“Many will conclude that this has all the hallmarks of yet another politically motivated stitch up”.
Speaking on his GB News show yesterday evening, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was leader of the House of Commons during Mr Johnson’s tenure, said he was invited along with the chief whip for a meeting with the former PM at Chequers — adding that the chief whip was disinvited “because you couldn’t mix families”.
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