Partygate probe 'unlawful' – the full ruling that devastates attempt to oust Boris

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The shocking finding s by Lord Pannick, a lawyer brought in on behalf of Mr Johnson by the Government, have been published today raising serious questions over whether  the inquiry can continue.

The Prime Minister has today placed in the public domain a joint Legal Opinion by Lord Pannick QC and Jason Pobjoy of Blackstone Chambers relating to the proposed conduct of the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee.

It now raises serious questions about whether the committee’s inquiry chaired by former Labour deputy leader harriet Harman can now continue.

Lord Pannick called the investigation “fundamentally flawed” and “unfair”.

In his summary in a 22 page document, Lord Pannick says inquiry by privileges committee needs to establish “that Mr Johnson intended to mislead the House – that is that he knew that what he told the House was incorrect”.

The key is whether they can prove Mr Johnson deliberately lied to MPs.

Pressure had alrady been mounting for the inquiry called by Opposition parties to be dropped affter Mr Johnson resigned as Tory leader and said he would give way to a successor as Prime Minister next week.

The favourite in the Tory leadership contest Liz Truss nhas already been hearing calls from his supporters to have the inquiry dropped.

One of the main criticisms of the process is that witnesses would be given anonymity meaning that Mr Johnson would struggle to respond.

Lord Pannick noted: “Fairness requires that Mr Johnson be told the identity of witnesses on whose evidence the Committee relies to make findings against him. It is only if he knows their identity that Mr Johnson can respond to such evidence by drawing attention to material that might undermine its credibility such as an animus or a grudge or other rebuttal evidence.”

He also noted that MPs had not put the same strict critieria on the burden of proof that would be required in the courts.

Lord Pannick said: “Parliament has imposed very strict criteria before the court can hear evidence of a witness whose identity is not disclosed to the defendant. Parliament has imposed these criteria because it has recognised that fairness so demands, and that it is not sufficient for an anonymity order that the witness will not otherwise give evidence.

“The Committee is applying far looser standards which are plainly unfair to Mr Johnson.”

Lord Pannick, who is an unlikely ally for the Prime Minister having previously appeared against the government, has insisted that it was “wrong in principle” for the committee to pass judgement not only on whether the Prime Minister “knowingly misled” parliament, but also on whether he simply “misled” it.

He also noted that because of parliamentary privilege, the committee’s decisions cannot be challenged in court.

Lord Pannick said: “In our opinion, the committee is proposing to adopt an approach to the substantive issues which is wrong in principle in important respects, and the committee is also proposing to adopt an unfair procedure.

“But for parliamentary privilege, a court hearing a judicial review brought by Mr Johnson would in our view declare the approach taken by the committee to be unlawful.”

Labour standards committee chairman Chris Bryant, who had to stand aside for the case because his comments about Mr Johnson were prejudicial, responded: “You would have thought that @BorisJohnson would want to clear his name in front of the Privileges Committee instead of trying to intimidate it. Lord Pannick’s bizarre ‘opinion’ has no formal status and is wrong on several counts. Firstly, he fails to mention that.”



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