Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson accepted he misled Parliament over parties at his office during COVID-19 lockdowns but said he did not do so intentionally or recklessly.
The statement forms part of a 52-page document Johnson submitted in response to a parliamentary inquiry into whether he set out to mislead lawmakers about illegal gatherings at 10 Downing Street.
Johnson’s statement was released Tuesday by the Committee of Privileges, which has been conducting an inquiry into the former premier since April.
- Johnson has consistently denied any wrongdoing surrounding the lockdown gatherings. While admitting to his presence at the parties, he repeatedly suggests his attendance was of little impact.
- In the statement, he writes that he never lingered at the parties for long: “At none of these events did I stay for more than half an hour, and sometimes far less,” he said. “I was extremely busy. I might raise a glass to honour a colleague, but that was it.”
- Early in the document, however, Johnson does acknowledge that the investigation showed he breached some pandemic guidelines, despite his assertion that rules were followed.
- “I take this opportunity to apologise to the House (of Commons) for that,” he wrote. “When I announced the independent investigation ... I acknowledged to the House that I may be proved to be wrong, and that proved to be the case.”
Johnson has been investigated by the London Metropolitan Police over his involvement in the parties held at No. 10 during his country’s pandemic lockdown. The scandal, known in the British press as ‘partygate,’ has hounded Johnson since the allegations emerged.
Staff at No. 10 attended at least 14 parties which contravened pandemic guidance, and Johnson appeared at five of them.
The written statement released Tuesday is part of Johnson’s defense strategy as Parliament investigates. He will be questioned by MPs at a televised standing committee meeting on Wednesday.