No10 stalls on demands to hand over ‘partygate’ documents

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He has said he will remain as caretaker Prime Minister until a new leader of the Tory party is chosen by September 5 (Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street / Avalon)
He has said he will remain as caretaker Prime Minister until a new leader of the Tory party is chosen by September 5 (Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street / Avalon)

Downing Street has refused to commit to handing over a cache of documents to MPs investigating whether Boris Johnson misled Parliament over partygate.

The Commons Privileges Committee has written to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case demanding details relevant to its inquiry which is examining whether Mr Johnson lied to MPs when he denined knowledge of parties in Downing Street when Covid lockdown restrictions were in place.

These include Mr Johnson’s diaries for eight days during the partying period, email invites, resignation emails and WhatsApp messages and No 10 entry logs.

The storm over partygate was a major factor in the catastrophic loss of confidence among Tory MPs in Mr Johnson which led to him announcing his resignation last week.

He has said he will remain as caretaker Prime Minister until a new leader of the Tory party is chosen by September 5.

But the committee’s investigation threatens to further tarnish his legacy and could impact on his future as the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip after he leaves Downing Street.

Responding to the requests, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said on Friday that No10 would assist the committee but insisted it would have to consider the request first.

“As we have said before we will assist the committee in their inquiries but we want to have the time to look at the letters and requests and we will set out our response in due course,” the spokesman said.

“This is a formal Parliamentary process. It’s right the lettters they have sent are looked at properly and it’s right we respond to the committee in the usual way.”

Labour MP Harriet Harman, who is chairing the investigation, wrote to Mr Johnson and Mr Case giving them the deadline of August 15 to hand over the documents.

The request for Mr Johnson's diary entries relate to dates between May 2020 and January last year when numerous rule-breaking gatherings were held in Downing Street and Whitehall.

The request for No 10 entry logs on June 19 and November 13 2020 centre on Mr Johnson's birthday gathering, over which he was fined, and an event in his Downing Street flat.

All photos by Mr Johnson's official photographer Andrew Parsons on the dates in question were also requested.

Electronic invites for any of the events were demanded, as were briefing notes for Commons appearances where Mr Johnson may have misled the House and records of civil servants being disciplined.

So too were details of any relevant documents that may have been deleted.

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