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Johnson loyalists condemned in UK Parliament probe

LONDON (AFP) – A panel of British Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday accused diehard supporters of former prime minister Boris Johnson in parliament of waging a campaign of abuse and contempt against his “Partygate” investigators.

Eight Johnson loyalists, including former ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries and Priti Patel, were named and shamed in a special report by the privileges committee.

The same committee had already found Johnson guilty of intentionally misleading the House of Commons in his serial denials that parties had taken place in 10 Downing Street during Covid lockdowns.

That verdict, which forced Johnson in advance to resign as a MP, was roundly denounced by his most outspoken supporters in both the Commons and House of Lords as a “witch hunt” allegedly engineered by his political enemies.

The committee, which has a majority of MPs from Johnson’s Conservative party, ruled that the campaign of “improper pressure” imperilled the ability of members to investigate wrongdoing by their colleagues.

Jacob-Rees Mogg. PHOTO: AP

“This unprecedented and coordinated pressure did not affect the conduct or outcome of our inquiry,” the special report said.

“However, it had significant personal impact on individual (committee) members and raised significant security concerns.”

The report urged the full Commons to vote to accept its report and resolve that in future, MPs “should not impugn the integrity” of the committee “or attempt to lobby or intimidate” its members.

“It will be for the House to consider what further action, if any, to take in respect of Members of the House referred to in this special report,” it added.

There was no immediate comment from Johnson – who conferred state honours on some of those named in the report in a deeply controversial resignation list. One of those named, newly knighted Conservative MP Michael Fabricant, stood by his prior attacks, tweeting: “Respect for the committee needs to be earned.”

Another Tory MP named, Mark Jenkinson, accused the privileges committee of “gross overreach”.