Category Archives: Investigation

Waiting for Sue Gray: here’s what we already know about Boris Johnson’s corruption

Boris Bull****: it seems the prime minister will try to fool us that he has “learned” his “lesson” after receiving a small fine for being at a single Downing Street party, being let off the hook for all the other events he attended, and lying brazenly to Parliament about what was going on. He is simply the most corrupt crook to have infested the highest office in the UK – and that’s saying a lot!

If Boris Johnson hoped the end of the Met Police investigation into parties at Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdowns would take the heat off him, he was mistaken. It has been turned up.

For a start, doubt has been cast on the police inquiry after images emerged of the prime minister taking part in events for which he was not fined. Were the police protecting Johnson because he is the prime minister, or giving him privileges not afforded to low-level civil servants because he could afford expensive lawyers? If so, then they were defying the basic principle of UK law that everybody should be treated equally. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded a detailed explanation.

And former Met Police deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick has weighed in, stating that the public will want to know what more evidence the police needed to give the prime minister a fixed penalty notice, when the photos appear to show beyond reasonable doubt that he should have been issued with one.

People who attended the parties (and were presumably fined for doing so) have told the BBC and others about the party culture at Downing Street during the Covid lockdowns – a culture endorsed by Boris Johnson, they said, suggesting he “wanted to be liked” and for staff to be able to “let their hair down”, and that they felt they had the prime minister’s permission to socialise even it meant breaking the rules because “he was there.”

It’s not surprising that civil servants are starting to speak out: as is now normal in Boris Johnson’s regime, it is the staff and special advisors who have taken the blame for Partygate rather than the politicians who permitted and participated in the parties. A large majority of the 83 people fined by the police were officials, and Johnson’s backroom team has also suffered a “brutal purge” over the last six months.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case – a close Johnson ally – is safe, though, despite speculation on his future. It seems that after Johnson’s ministers withdrew permission for him to give evidence on Partygate to a committee of MPs, his job is not in danger.

Meanwhile, not a single politician has lost their job. Rishi Sunak simply decided he didn’t feel like stepping down after being fined, and Johnson seems determined to corruptly give himself the all-clear for lying to Parliament, if he is a accused of breaking the Ministerial Code. You see, as prime minister, he is in charge of deciding whether anybody has broken it, including himself.

Tory MPs seem split, though. Environment Secretary George “Useless” Eustice has said he expects “nothing new” to come from the report and that he hopes its publication will allow the government to put the scandal behind it, despite all the loose ends that are still dangling about the lies told by Johnson, the possibility of a Met Police cover-up, and the fact that the Tory government tacitly, if not openly, endorsed the party culture.

But critics are said to be relaunching their bid to oust Johnson by triggering a leadership contest with letters of “no confidence” in him.

And Johnson himself?

According to BBC political editor Chris Mason, he actually has the bare-faced cheek to trot out the tired old lie that “We have learned our lesson”.

What utter Boris Bull****.

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Partygate: Boris Johnson may be getting no more fines, but he’s a long way from getting away with it

Boris Johnson at a party: this one was in Christmas 2020, apparently, but the police aren’t fining him for it. Hmm…

Never mind the rumours that Boris Johnson met Sue Gray to discuss how to “manage” her report on the Covid-19 lockdown-busting Downing Street parties; he’s not likely to affect her verdict.

Apparently they only met to talk about whether she should publish images in her report – and he said it was a matter for her to decide on her own.

At the moment, it seems she is pushing for clearance to name the so-called ringleaders of the Partygate scandal, discussing with Civil Service human resources and legal teams, as well as trade unions, how explicitly she can point the finger.

That’s not the behaviour of someone who has taken orders not to rock the boat.

Indeed, avid scandal-watchers are bulk-buying popcorn in time for next week’s publication of her report, which promises to issue scathing criticism of senior political and Civil Service figures, calling into question why illegal social gatherings were allowed to take place.

But the real scandal appears to be the possibility that the Commons Privileges Committee is unlikely to report on whether Johnson intentionally misled Parliament over these parties until September.

The Committee has not yet met to decide who will chair the inquiry, after Labour’s Chris Bryant recused himself over [an] accusation of bias.

It is also unlikely to conclude its investigation before Parliament breaks up for summer recess in July, raising the prospect of Mr Johnson waiting until September at the earliest until the final verdict is delivered on Partygate.

The net result of all this delay has been to diffuse the strength of the scandal.

Ms Gray was originally set to publish her expected-to-be-damning report in January, less than two months after claims came to light that Tory ministers and civil servants took part in illegal parties over a period of more than a year.

But she was delayed after Johnson’s fellow Balliol College, Oxford, alumnus Cressida Dick commissioned a Metropolitan Police inquiry into the allegations that has delayed matters for four months.

And in the meantime, MPs decided to hold their own inquiry into whether Johnson had broken the Ministerial Code. It is known that he repeatedly provided false information to the Commons about whether parties took place but the important question is whether he did so, knowing that his words were not true.

It is this inquiry that may push Johnson out of Downing Street, because knowingly misleading Parliament is a breach of the Ministerial Code for which the penalties go as far as expulsion from that assembly.

But if the verdict won’t be known until September, who will care?

Source: Boris Johnson to wait months for final ‘Partygate’ verdict on whether he misled Parliament

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No more Partygate fines for Johnson – if we trust Downing Street – but what will Sue Gray say?

Sue Gray: all eyes are turning to her, now she is at liberty to publish her full – and probably damning – report on Boris Johnson and the illegal Downing Street parties he allowed to happen under his nose.

The prime minister’s office at Downing Street has said that Boris Johnson will not receive a second fine for taking part in illegal parties there during the Covid-19 lockdowns that he himself had imposed.

With the police refusing to name anybody they have fined, we are being asked to take the word of people who are themselves likely to have been fined for taking part in the parties (126 people have) and who may have been told to protect their boss.

But whether or not you believe the people who initially spent more than a year hiding the fact that these parties took place at all, the closure of the Metropolitan Police inquiry means that Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray may at last release her own full report on the scandal.

This could be far more damning to Johnson than the police investigation because it may include her verdict on whether he lied to his fellow MPs about whether the parties took place and about his own participation in them.

Lying to Parliament is a grave offence under the Ministerial Code, for which it is entirely possible that Johnson may not only lose his job as prime minister but be expelled from the House of Commons altogether.

Of course, ultimate authority for punishing offences against the Code lies with – guess who? – the prime minister but in a situation in which the PM himself is accused, it seems logical that alternative arrangements will be made to judge the matter.

And MPs have already arranged their own inquiry. A motion for the Commons Privileges Committee to do so was passed “on the nod” after attempts by the Tory leadership to prevent their backbenchers from voting for it were defeated.

We have already been told that the Gray report is so excoriating of Johnson that it may end his premiership:

The Times, citing an official it described as being familiar with the contents of the complete report, said Ms Gray’s full findings were even more personally critical of the Prime Minister and could end his premiership.

According to the paper, the official said: “Sue’s report is excoriating. It will make things incredibly difficult for the Prime Minister. There’s an immense amount of pressure on her – her report could be enough to end him.” No 10 declined to comment.

According to the i newspaper, in a report last month, Tory rebels have been organising to oust Johnson and the now-four-month reprieve Johnson enjoyed as a result of the police investigation merely allowed them to organise themselves.

Even though we have been told he has not received any more fines, these backbenchers were also watching the results of the local elections at the beginning of the month – in which the Conservatives took a drubbing.

Remember: these were council seats and devolved Parliament places where the Labour Party had enjoyed the so-called “Corbyn bounce” in 2018, and where the Tories may have reasonably expected to make gains this time. Instead both they and Labour lost out to the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

Ms Gray is expected to release her report next week – and then the sparks may really fly.

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Beergate: Starmer fuels ‘running scared’ gossip by pulling out of keynote speech

Keir Starmer: we like to use this image when it seems he has made another mistake. And who can say we’re wrong this time?

Aides of Labour’s right-wing leader are scrabbling to cover for him after he pulled out of a major speech ahead of the State Opening of Parliament.

Starmer had been due to make a speech and take questions at an event on “challenges the country faces” organised by the Institute for Government think tank, but pulled out without explanation after Durham Police announced it would re-investigate the alleged Beergate affair.

This alleges that Starmer attended an event in Durham in April last year, when he drank beer and ate a curry with colleagues. At the time, Covid-19 social distancing rules meant it was illegal for people in England to socialise indoors with people from outside their household or support bubble, although there was an exemption for “work purposes”

Starmer had claimed that it was a work event, and food and drink had been consumed in between doing work – but the police investigation was reopened after a leaked memo obtained by the Mail of Sunday revealed it was in fact pre-planned, with time scheduled for “dinner” after which the event would conclude.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting tried to dismiss the matter when he was challenged over it on BBC Breakfast: “I have no idea why he cancelled the event and I certainly didn’t ask before I came on because I think it’s such a trivial issue.

“The idea that Keir is somehow ducking scrutiny is simply not true.”

Shadow “levelling-up”, housing and communities secretary Lisa Nandy fared a little better when she said, “It is frankly absurd of the Tories to claim that this in any way equates to a prime minister who was under investigation by the police for 12 separate gatherings which included karaoke parties, bring your own bottle parties, pub quizzes, suitcases full of wine being smuggled through the back door.”

But then she ruined it by adding, “This is a guy who self-isolated six times during the pandemic.” That’s not altogether vindicating as some of us suggested he was running away from scrutiny some of those times as well.

And Labour is not united on this matter; the issue has re-awakened splits between factions on the left and right of the party.

Diane Abbott said yesterday Starmer would have to “consider his position” if police hand him a fine.

Emily Ferguson in the I newspaper said this could be the least of Starmer’s troubles:

Even if police decide not to issue him a fine, officers could still brand the event as a minor breach of rules – as they did with former No 10 aide Dominic Cummings’ infamous Barnard Castle trip.

Such a scenario would leave Sir Keir in limbo and vulnerable to a coup from Labour MPs unhappy that he may have jeopardised the party’s hopes of returning to government.

The allegation and incriminating photo will linger in voters’ minds. In the eyes of the public his image is tainted and for some, Sir Keir can no longer hold the moral high ground of being the Opposition leader who fiercely followed Covid rules throughout.

[Starmer] has his work cut out over the next few months as he will need to keep a lid on internal disputes and prevent the fractious divides within Labour from re-emerging, convince voters he is capable of leading the country, all whilst holding the Government to account on the cost-of-living crisis.

On the basis of today’s (non-)performance, he’s not going to manage it.

People will see his withdrawal from a major event – without explanation – as exactly what it is:

Running away.

Source: Sir Keir Starmer pulls out of keynote speech as pressure mounts over beergate

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Why has EHRC broken promise to investigate DWP’s role in deaths of benefit claimants?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has u-turned on a promise to investigate the role played by the Department for Work and Pensions in the deaths of vulnerable benefit claimants, it’s being reported.

Instead the EHRC are now asking the DWP to create new policies in relation to claimants with mental health issues and learning difficulties. Apparently the commission is using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse.

This Site forced the DWP to publish figures showing that thousands of people had died of unexplained causes after being thrown off benefits by that government department and I am deeply concerned by this failure to scrutinise whether the government caused these deaths.

And how many more people have died since I exposed those deaths seven years ago?

I shall be writing to the EHRC today, seeking a meaningful explanation for this u-turn.

UPDATE: Here’s what I have written to the EHRC:

“I was the writer who forced the DWP to admit that thousands of people have died after being thrown off benefits – for no established reason. I am deeply concerned that the EHRC has decided not to investigate the DWP’s role in the deaths of claimants and is choosing only to seek an agreement to better protect claimants – similar to other undertakings that the DWP has ignored in the past, causing more deaths. The DWP will never respect the human rights, or indeed the lives, of claimants unless it is forced to do so. I am writing to you to seek an explanation for your decision that I can publish to my readers. How will you defend this indefensible decision?”

Let’s see what response – if any – I receive.

Source: EHRC Breaks Promise To Investigate DWP Role In Deaths – The poor side of life

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Is Sue Gray’s Covid parties review so damning it could finish Boris Johnson as PM?

Boris Johnson and Cressida Dick: her decision to investigate the so-called Partygate scandal bought him a three-month reprieve from the “excoriating” contents of Sue Gray’s report – but now seems likely to add fuel to incendiary criticisms it contains.

This casts the Metropolitan Police’s decision to investigate the alleged lockdown-busting Downing Street parties – after initially refusing – in a very poor light indeed.

The Met, under then-Commissioner Cressida Dick, decided to launch an investigation after all, shortly before Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray was due to publish her review into the events underlying the so-called Partygate scandal.

Ms Gray had been expected to publish her report around January 24 this year, but it didn’t appear on that day – and on the very next day, Dick announced that the Met was launching an investigation of its own.

This Writer said at the time that the announcement seemed an obvious delaying tactic and today’s (April 25) revelation suggests that I was right.

Ms Gray was forced to amend her report because the plods said they didn’t want it to contain any information that could prejudice their inquiries.

And now we hear claims that the full report is so “excoriating” of Johnson that it could end his term as prime minister:

The Times, citing an official it described as being familiar with the contents of the complete report, said Ms Gray’s full findings were even more personally critical of the Prime Minister and could end his premiership.

According to the paper, the official said: “Sue’s report is excoriating. It will make things incredibly difficult for the Prime Minister. There’s an immense amount of pressure on her – her report could be enough to end him.” No 10 declined to comment.

Ironically, it seems the Met’s delaying tactic is likely to have made matters worse for Johnson in the long term.

Already he has received one fixed-term penalty – a fine – for attending a party held to celebrate his own birthday in 2020. It seems likely he will receive another for a “bring your own booze” event in the garden of 10 Downing Street on May 20 that year.

And there are four other events that he allegedly attended being investigated by the police as well.

Ms Gray can’t release her full report until after the police investigation has ended but, by then, any criticism of Johnson may be superceded by the consequences of the fines.

According to the i newspaper, Tory rebels are organising to oust him if their party fares poorly in next month’s local elections – or if he receives further fines.

The three-month reprieve Johnson has enjoyed as a result of the police investigation has merely allowed them to organise themselves, it seems.

The paper says Johnson’s critics are currently “holding back” to await the local election results or further fines – but have prepared ‘no confidence’ letters to be submitted en masse to the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs should the party take a battering at the polls on May 5.

It seems Johnson’s chickens are coming home to roost and any plan to fend off his critics with an early general election is likely to fail. How will he try to save his bacon now?

Source: Sue Gray’s Covid parties review could spell ‘end’ of Boris Johnson premiership, says report

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Will committee set to decide Johnson’s fate be replaced entirely?

Recused: Chris Bryant can’t chair the Commons Privileges committee while it examines Boris Johnson’s behaviour because he has already called the prime minister a “proven liar”.

The House of Commons Privileges Committee – that will decide whether Boris Johnson deliberately lied to MPs about Partygate – could be temporarily replaced with an entirely new membership for the job.

Committee chairman Chris Bryant has already recused himself because he has publicly accused Johnson of being a “proven liar”.

The Labour Party must now appoint a new chair, and is said to be looking for a ‘grandee’ to take Bryant’s place.

And there are concerns that that three of the four Tories on the committee – Laura Farris, Alberto Costa and Andy Carter – are on the Government payroll as ministerial aides.

It is entirely possible to replace the whole committee in order to ensure fair process – as happened for the Parliamentary inquiry into Tory former Cabinet Minister Damian Green.

The process may be slightly disrupted if, as is being reported, seven Conservative MPs defect to Labour over Johnson’s Partygate criminality and alleged dishonesty (Dehenna Davison is the only possible defector to have been named).

Obviously they could not be nominated onto the committee but defections would make it harder for the Tories to find candidates.

Source: Boris Johnson ‘plots early general election to see off leadership rivals’ as Partygate trundles on | Daily Mail Online

Johnson’s future in the balance: he WILL face inquiry over deliberately misleading MPs

Boris Johnson (right) preparing to ask questions at a quiz during one of the many lockdown-busting Downing Street Christmas parties. He has said he was not aware that these events broke the rules he laid down for the rest of us.

Boris Johnson’s continued tenure as prime minister may be in danger after MPs voted to launch an inquiry into whether he deliberately misled them about his attendance at lockdown-busting Downing Street parties.

No actual vote was taken because – after all the bluster that the Conservatives would not allow an investigation to take place, in the end, no objection was voiced to the motion and it went through “on the nod”.

This signifies a huge about-turn in the attitude of Conservative MPs.

Johnson’s Tory government had indicated that it would submit an amendment to Labour’s motion for an inquiry, seeking to delay the vote.

But this was withdrawn. Perhaps ministers had realised that backbenchers were being influenced by the public mood against their prime minister, and thought it would be better to let them express their feelings in a single vote, rather than two.

Conservatives certainly showed no reticence about expressing themselves during the debate.

It seems they were not prepared to defend Johnson, believing that it would reflect badly on them, allowing voters to accuse them of covering up their prime minister’s criminality and dishonesty.

William Wragg, Conservative MP and Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said few Conservatives can “truly enjoy” being an MP at the moment, and it is “utterly depressing” to be asked to “defend the indefensible”. He would vote for an investigation into Johnson’s behaviour.

Former Brexit Minister Steve Baker said he had wanted to forgive Johnson after the prime minister made an apology to MPs on Tuesday – but “that spirit of earnest willingness to forgive lasted about 90 seconds” into a meeting Boris Johnson held with his backbenchers later the same day.

“[It was] an orgy of adulation, a great festival of bombast, and I cannot bear these things… This level of transgression, this level of demand for forgiveness requires more than an apology drawing a line under it and moving on in the way the prime minister sought to do in his interviews.”

He said both Johnson and his advisers “need to understand this is a permanent stone in his shoe” and those who want to forgive him “want to see permanent contrition”.

Baker went on to tell the story of a constituent who didn’t get to see his wife of 50 years in a care home before she died, because of lockdown rules. “What am I to say to that man? I could say… you and I are Christian men and forgiveness is hard. [But] I don’t want to forgive him. I do not want to forgive our prime minister.”

He added that, if he was in any other job, Johnson would be “long gone”.

“Having watched the contrition… it only lasted as long as it took to get out of the headmaster’s study, and that’s not good enough for me, and that’s not good enough for my voters. I have to say now the possibility [of forgiveness] has gone… and for not obeying the letter and the spirit, the prime minister now should be long gone.

“The prime minister should just know the gig’s up.”

Conservative MP Peter Aldous said “this situation is completely unprecedented” – and the Privileges Committee should be invited to investigate.

Conservative Andrew Mangnall, MP for Totnes, said he still has a letter of no confidence in the prime minister with Sir Graham Brady of the 1922 Committee: “Every day that I see issues and rules broken in this place only reaffirms my belief that we have to stand up in this place and make it clear that dishonesty, inaction and misleading of the house cannot be tolerated, from anyone.”

He said he forgave Johnson for making mistakes – “but not for misleading the house as I see it”. He welcomed the motion and said he looked forward to the findings pf the Privileges Committee.

The investigation, by the Commons Privileges Committee, will not take place until the last fixed penalty notices are delivered by the Metropolitan Police and Sue Gray, who ran a Cabinet Office inquiry into the matter, is allowed to deliver her own final report.

Once all the information from the police and Ms Gray has become public knowledge, the committee of MPs – most of them Conservative – will decide Johnson’s fate.

If today’s performance is any yardstick, it isn’t looking good.

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Warburton in mental hospital with shock after sex and drugs suspension. Why tell us?

Warburton: he’s accused of sexual improprieties and drug abuse – as apparently suggested by this image (although what the white lines really were has yet to be determined).

I wouldn’t want to cast suspicion on a person who has been admitted to hospital, allegedly suffering from stress.

That’s what we’re being told about David Warburton, after he was suspended from the Parliamentary Conservative Party amid a torrent of allegations about inappropriate sexual behaviour and cocaine abuse:

On Sunday, he was admitted to hospital suffering from “severe shock and stress”, according to his wife Harriet, who is also his office manager.

Government whips … have told the MP to stay away from Westminster while the investigation is ongoing, although they have no power to ban him from the parliamentary estate.

But isn’t that exactly what a person accused of such offences might do, if he was trying to curry sympathy?

We mustn’t pre-judge – especially not with Warburton’s Somerton and Frome constituency being a key battleground in next months local government elections, with elections for every seat on the county council.

No, we mustn’t pre-judge.

But we can ask why we were told he’s gone into hospital. He could have simply stepped back from politics until the investigation was completed – whether in hospital or not. Why tell us this?

Source: Tory MP David Warburton in psychiatric hospital after being suspended over sex and drug claims

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David Warburton suspended by Tories for alleged sexual harassment and drug use

Photographic evidence? Suspended Tory MP David Warburton is pictured next to what appears to be lines of cocaine. If all is as it seems, he could be in serious trouble.

Did the people of Somerton and Frome elect a sex-crazed drugs beast to be their MP?

Well, we don’t know yet because an investigation has yet to happen.

Here’s what we’re all hearing, though:

David Warburton… is understood to be facing allegations from three women, while a photo has emerged of the MP allegedly sitting alongside lines of cocaine. The picture of Warburton… is said to date from February. It is claimed it was taken at the home of a younger woman who he met through politics.

Accusations from two other women have been handed to the new parliamentary harassment watchdog, the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS). A spokesperson on behalf of the whips’ office said: “David Warburton MP has had the Conservative party whip removed while the investigation is ongoing.”

Warburton, 56, is a married father of two and former businessman. It is alleged … that he asked for the drug to be purchased, before saying the price was “quite good actually”. The woman involved claimed she had been drunk, but began to feel uncomfortable about being alone with the MP as she became less intoxicated. She said that she retreated to her bedroom, but that he climbed into bed with her, naked.

She said she did not ask him to leave or push him away because she was fearful about how he might react. She said she gave repeated warnings that she did not want to have sex with him, but alleged that he ground his body against her and groped her breasts. The woman is said not to have made a complaint to the police or any other authority, saying she wanted to forget about the incident.

The MP has previously condemned the exploitation of young people involved in the drugs trade, including the “intimidation, violence and criminal incentives” involved.

It must be remembered that these are only allegations.

If they turn out to be accurate, though, we may be looking at another by-election to replace a disgraced Tory.

Watch this space.

Source: Tories suspend David Warburton amid claims over sexual harassment and drug use | Conservatives | The Guardian

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