A parliamentary inquiry has found that former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson misled lawmakers over breaching his own Covid-19 lockdown rules, according to a government report published Thursday.
The House of Commons Committee of Privileges led the months-long inquiry. It found that Johnson “committed a serious contempt” of Parliament when it was revealed that illegal gatherings had taken place at the Prime Minister’s Downing Street residence in London amid the so-called “Partygate” scandal, Johnson told lawmakers that rules were followed at all times.
“The contempt was all the more serious because it was committed by the Prime Minister, the most senior member of the government,” the committee wrote in its report. “There is no precedent for a Prime Minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House.”
The committee members added that Johnson had also misled the committee when he presented evidence in his own defense, saying, “He misled the House on an issue of the greatest importance to the House and to the public, and did so repeatedly.”
On Friday, Johnson angrily resigned from his position as a Member of Parliament (MP) ahead of being forced out.
However, he hinted that Britain had not seen the last of him, writing, “It is very sad to be leaving Parliament—at least for now.”
Earlier this week, before the Privileges Committee’s report was even published, Johnson accused the inquiry of being “riddled with inaccuracies and reeks of prejudice” while providing him with “no formal ability to challenge anything they say.”
Johnson was forced to resign as Prime Minister by nearly 60 members of his government in the summer of 2022 after a historic party revolt over a series of ethics scandals, including the Covid lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street, for which he and others were fined.
Last month, the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office referred the Covid breach accusations against Johnson to the Metropolitan Police, which covers the greater London area though not the city itself, as well as to the Thames Valley Police.
Parliament’s accusations against Johnson are a first for the United Kingdom.
“It is completely unprecedented for a former prime minister to be found to have been a law-breaker and serial liar,” Liberal Democrat opposition lawmaker Daisy Cooper said in a statement.
In April 2020, then-Prime Minister Johnson was treated in intensive care for Covid-19.